Sunday, November 23, 2008

Red Kuri Squash Soup with Garlic Whipping Cream, and Crispy Ham

The other day at Whole Foods when I bought my insane 23 pounds of sugar pumpkin, I also saw and purchased this yummy looking thing called Red Kuri Squash. It was described as having a 'chestnut' flavour, and that's what sold me. I love chestnuts, I love squash, and I decided... man, this would make the most excellent soup.

You might notice a change in my photographs-- I got a new camera. And, you know, I keep trying. Practice makes perfect!

In any case, I winged this soup completely. I really liked the idea of making a whipped cream, like normal whipped cream, but making it savory instead of sweet. I was thinking this would be perfect for this kind of soup-- I wanted the soup to be creamy, and knew the squash would do that naturally, but if I added a dollop of whipped cream on top to melt in and eat, like a latte (which it ended up looking like in the end), that would be delicious. Also, the idea of ham and chestnuts, like on Christmas, really enlightened me.

So yes. Try this soup, it's got the most amazing combination of fall flavours. Served with bread and warmed apple slices is quite, quite excellent.

Recipe for Red Kuri Squash Soup, Garlic Whipping Cream, and Crispy Ham

1 tablespoon hazlenut oil
1/2 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
4 shallots, diced
2 garli cloves, minced
1 red kuri squash, seeded (seeds set aside), peeled and cubed
1 celery stick, cut in half
1 bay leaf
4 sprigs fresh thyme
2 sprigs fresh rosemary
small handful fresh sage leaves
1/8 teaspoon ground mace
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 cup chicken stock

In a medium pot, heat the hazlenut and olive oils. Sautee the garlic and shallots in the oil until just sweating. Add the squash and season with salt, nutmeg, and mace. After 5 minutes, pour in the chicken stock and add herbs and celery. Cover and simmer for 20 minutes.
When the squash is completely tender and the flavours have melded, remove the celery, thyme, rosemary, sage, and bay leaf. Using a blender or hand emulsifier, puree the soup until creamy. Strain through a strainer to remove any lumps. Top with a large dollop of whipped garlic cream and sliced, sauteed ham strips and a few toasted kuri squash seeds.

Whipped Garlic Cream

2 cloves garlic, smashed to release juices
1 sprig thyme
1/2 pint heavy whipping cream
dash of salt

Soak the garlic and thyme in the whipping cream for 15 minutes. Remove the thyme and garlic and mince the garlic. Begin whipping the cream until thicker. Add half the minced garlic and salt. Whip until smooth and creamy and stiff.

Crispy Ham

4 oz Slices of ham steak
1 sprig Fresh Thyme, chopped

In a small saucepan, cook the ham steak slices and thyme together until cooked well and slightly crispy.

Toasted Kuri seeds

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Sprinkle kuri seeds with olive oil and salt, toast for 15-20 minutes until golden brown.

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