Posted by: CJW | January 29, 2010

Delicata Squash Soup

When dining out, the thing that usually drives my decision as to what to order are the garnishes and sides. I rarely have a hankering for the featured item of a dish, so unless that item is cooked in some new or interesting way, it’s the things on the side, the flavors and textures that have been paired with it, that intrigue me. Well, okay, unless the side says that it has bacon or cheese in it, then admittedly, that seals the deal right there.

Since I’m not a huge squash fan, my ideas for garnishes were definitely what got me excited about this soup. When confronted with four delicata squash, my mind instantly went to a pot of warm, brightly spiced, creamy soup as the quickest and most painless ways I could use those babies up. A little further digging into the CSA box revealed a small head of bitter radicchio, and I was instantly dazzled by the color possibility of sharp magenta sitting atop the light, sunny orange color of the soup. If that radicchio was slightly wilted with a splash of sweet and acidic balsamic vinegar and slivers of crunchy bacon, then I’d have more than just a colorful garnish. I’d have textural contrast and balance of flavors as well.

Idea was put into practice and the result was good. The acidic tang and slight bitterness of the balsamic glazed radicchio brightened the heat of the ginger and cinnamon in the soup. The bacon added salt and crunch which cut through the creamy soup base. The colors popped, inviting you to devour this soup, and know that this wouldn’t be just another boring bowl of roasted squash soup.

  • 4 small delicata squash
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 quart vegetable stock
  • 2 cups water
  • 1/3 cup cream
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tbsp fresh ginger root, minced
  • pinch of all spice
  • 1 head radicchio, thinly sliced
  • splash of balsamic vinegar, about 2 tsp
  • 2 slices bacon, cut crosswise into 1/4 inch wide strips, cooked until crisp
  • 1 tbsp parsley, chopped

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Split squash lengthwise and scoop out seeds and stringy bits. Brush the flesh side with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Set cut side down on a foil lined baking sheet. Cook for 30-40 minutes or until tender. Scoop out squash flesh and set aside.

In a large Dutch oven or soup pot, heat 1 tbsp olive oil over medium heat. Cook the onion, garlic, and ginger until onion softens but doesn’t browned. Add squash, vegetable stock, and water. Bring to a boil and simmer for 20 minutes. Blend until smooth, either by using an immersion blender (lucky! I want!) or in batches in a blender of no more than 2 cups of soup at a time, holding down the lid with a towel since the hot soup can push the lid off if the blender is overfilled. Return pureed soup to pot and add the cream, cinnamon, and all spice. Adjust salt and pepper to taste and keep warm while you prep the garnish.

Heat about 2 tsp olive oil in a small skillet over medium heat. Add the radicchio a handful at a time so that the leaves get a chance to wilt and make room for more. Add the balsamic vinegar and a pinch of salt and pepper. Let this cook until the vinegar reduces down to a light glaze over the radicchio.

Ladle soup into bowls. Carefully set a small pile of radicchio in the center of each bowl. Sprinkle the bacon over and around the radicchio and add a pinch of fresh parsley for additional color.

CSA Count: 3

Delicata squash, radicchio, parsley

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