I really had no idea how good this soup was going to be. Let’s call it a happy accident. It started with a meander through the fridge and the vague knowledge that I had some fennel floating around, and a desire to make a healthy but delicious soup.
I literally started by chopping up a leek, adding some garlic and getting things going in the pan while I chopped up the fennel and considered my options. My a-ha moment led me to the chopped kabocha squash in the freezer; I was so glad to have suffered at the hands of that squash when I realized I had just the right amount ready to go.
Into the pot it went, along with a chopped carrot, some bay leaves, turmeric, nutmeg, salt and pepper.
This was the critical moment. It was time to add water or stock and my mind ran through my options. Suddenly I remembered that just a few weeks ago I had made and frozen a batch of vegetable stock whose primary ingredient was…you guessed it, fennel! I’d smiled at myself at the time, wondering when I’d be making a soup in which I could use a vegetable stock with such a distinctive flavour. Bingo!
Once the stock was in the pot, I let it build up to a gentle boil (this was cooked on top of our woodstove) and kept it there for about 15 or 20 minutes. Then it was time for the immersion blender, a bit of lemon juice, some milk, and the soup was done. It was absolutely delicious, so full of flavour, subtle yet nicely distinctive. My husband raved about it, for what that’s worth!
It’s not hard to imagine this soup being successful with another type of squash, such as butternut, and I’m sure a more typical vegetable stock would work fine. My fennel-based stock pushed it up and over the edge, I think, but I’ll certainly try it again without it. Here’s the recipe:
Velvety fennel and kabocha squash soup
1 leek, sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 carrot, chopped
1 head fennel, chopped
1/2 kabocha or butternut squash (approx. 2 cups)
2 bay leaves
4 cups vegetable stock
1 tbs turmeric
1 tsp ground nutmeg
Salt, pepper to taste
1 tbs lemon juice
1/2 cup milk or cream (plain yogurt should also work)
Step 1 – saute leek, garlic and fennel in small amount of olive oil
Step 2 – add squash, carrot, bay leaves and spices and saute until nicely browned
Step 3 – add vegetable stock, bring to a boil and cook for 15 to 20 minutes or until squash has softened
Step 4 – use an immersion blender to create a puree
Step 5 – stir in lemon juice; once incorporated fully, add milk or cream
Step 6 – serve
The success of this soup was doubly gratifying as the last time I made a cream-based squash soup I failed miserbly (I don’t want to talk about it). Hope you might enjoy it as much as I did.