It’s not even time for winter CSA shares to kick in and already I’m knee deep in squashes: several acorn squashes, a small butternut and this huge Red Kuri squash. And given that I live in a New York City apartment, I no longer have the root cellar available to me that I used in long Chicago winters. Moving the inventory becomes a bit more pressing. So it’s time for a big batch of squash soup. Red Kuri has a lovely, silky and refined texture and a mellow, slightly sweet, nutty flavor and is perfect for soups.
Red Kuri Squash Soup with Sage Brown Butter
1 large red kuri squash
1 large onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
4 tablespoons butter
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground ginger
½ teaspoon nutmeg
½ teaspoon ground cardamom
¼ cup apple cider vinegar
8-12 cups water or vegetable stock
1 tablespoon lemon juice
Salt and white pepper, to taste
16-24 whole fresh sage leaves
½ cup Greek-style sheep’s milk yogurt
¼ cup pumpkin seeds, toasted (optional)
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
2. Cut squash in half lengthwise and scoop out flesh and seeds. (Note: don’t bother roasting the kuri squash seeds, they are pretty tough and bitter, though you may want to save the seeds to plant in the garden next year. If you are using seeds as a garnish, use pumpkin seeds instead). Place the squash halves in a large roasting pan and add about an inch of water to the pan. Season the squash halves with salt and white pepper. Cover with foil and bake in the oven for 60-90 minutes, or until soft. Cool and scoop out the flesh.
3. Sauté the onion and garlic in two tablespoons of butter in a large pot on medium heat until translucent and just starting to brown.
4. Add the spices and stir for about 30 seconds to bring out the aroma. Add the apple cider vinegar.
5. Add squash flesh and water or vegetable stock.
6. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 30-40 minutes. If soup is too thick, thin with more liquid and cook for another ten minutes or so.
7. Puree the ingredients in batches in a blender or in the pot with an immersion blender. Add lemon juice, and season with salt and white pepper, to taste.
8. Melt remaining two tablespoons butter in a sauté pan over medium heat, stirring constantly. After the foam subsides, watch carefully and keep stirring until the butter turns a light brown and starts to smell like toasted hazelnuts. Throw in the sage leaves and swirl the pan a couple of times and immediately pour the butter and sage into a heatproof container before it burns.
9. Ladle soup into six large soup bowls. Add a dollop (about a tablespoon) of yogurt in each bowl. Sprinkle with 1-2 teaspoons of toasted pumpkin seeds and drizzle with the sage brown butter.