Creamy Squash Soup with Sherry, Thyme and Spiced Pumpkin Seeds
hy does pumpkin get all the
MAKES 4 SERVINGS
attention? It takes center stage
The sweet, nutty flavors in squash are accentuated by the addition of dry sherry, which lends a savory depth to the creamy soup. The crunchy pumpkin seed topping adds a spicy flavor boost and texture to the smooth soup.
in our favorite Thanksgiving pie, and pumpkin spice flavors are everywhere in muffins, coffee and more. It’s enough to give all the squash siblings a self-esteem problem. It’s time to give the rest of the squash family some face time. If you are a fan of pumpkin, you are already a fan of squash, which is in the same gourd family. Fall is when all those gorgeous gourds are in season and stores will have the widest selections. The squash we see this time of year is known as winter squash, which gets its name from being a good “keeper.” It’s harvested in fall, and if left in a cool room, will keep all winter. After it’s picked, the squash cures for a couple of weeks to let the skin harden into natural “packaging,” sealing in the freshness better than a plastic wrapper ever could. Most winter squash have inedible skins, but a few, like the sweet dumpling, carnival, delicata and kabocha have thinner skin that can be eaten. There are two ways to approach your squash. One is to simply cut it in half, scoop out the seeds and bake it on an oiled sheet pan. Then, you can scoop out the flesh to make purees for use in recipes from soup to cheesecake. The second way is to peel and cube the squash. It’s a little more work, but you’ll love those meltingly tender chunks of squash in pastas, curries and stews.
2 cups squash puree from 2 pounds butternut squash 2 tablespoons butter 1 large onion, chopped 1 tablespoon fresh thyme 2 tablespoons flour 11/2 cups whole milk 6 tablespoons dry sherry 1/8 teaspoon cayenne 1 teaspoon salt For the Pumpkin Seed Garnish 1 teaspoon canola oil 1 cup shelled pumpkin seeds 2 tablespoons light brown sugar 1/2 teaspoon cumin 1/2 teaspoon paprika 1/2 teaspoon salt 1. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Cut squash in half, scoop out the seeds and place, cut side down, on an oiled sheet pan. Bake for 40 minutes to 1 hour, until the squash is tender when pierced with a paring knife. Transfer the pan to a cooling rack and use a spatula to turn the hot halves over, which will help them cool faster. 2. When cool enough to handle, scoop out the flesh and place in a food processor bowl. Puree until smooth, then measure 2 cups for this recipe. If there is a little extra, refrigerate and save for another use. 3. In a large pot, melt the butter over medium-high heat, then add the onion and thyme. Stir until the onion starts to sizzle, then reduce the heat to low and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes. Sprinkle the flour over the onion mixture and stir to mix well, then cook for 3 to 4 minutes, stirring, to cook the flour. Take the pot off the heat and whisk in about 1/2 cup of the milk. When it is incorporated, whisk in the rest of the milk and then the sherry. Return to medium heat and whisk occasionally until the mixture thickens slightly and starts to bubble around the edges. Whisk in the squash puree, cayenne and salt and stir until heated through. Serve with pumpkin seed garnish. 4. For the pumpkin seed garnish: Heat the oil for 1 minute in a medium non-stick skillet. Add the pumpkin seeds and toss in the pan over high heat until the seeds are popping and browning, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat, add the brown sugar and toss constantly until seeds are coated with melted sugar (careful—it can burn easily). Quickly mix in the spices and salt, then spread on a plate to cool. Cool completely and store in an airtight container until ready to use. It can be made up to 1 week ahead.
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