I’m not going to apologize for onslaught of soup that will most likely happen on Licorice Pizza Pie. It is cold outside and I have discovered that I actually need to have warm soup at lunch or the rest of the workday is entirely thrown off. Without soup for lunch, I am craving warmth, still feel hungry and usually stay cold the rest of the day. Or it could just be in my head. Either way, I really, really love soup. My fiancé on the other hand could probably go the entire winter without soup. Its mind boggling. However, this has proven to be a benefit for us. I now know when I made an incredible soup because not only will he eat it with pleasure, he will eat it as leftovers for lunch. I did just realize however that this equates to fewer times I get to have really delicious soup for lunch.
A really good soup is one, for me, that is healthy, filling but above all has depth. Roughly six years ago, my first winter in Michigan, I went on quest to make homemade soups that had the same depth, flavor and richness that many restaurants or delis make. Like any knight on a quest, I made many watery, vegetable soaked soups, discovered soup truths that are now undeniable and slayed quite a few cookbooks in the search for these soups. I shall now share with you one of these soup truths. Making your own stock entirely changes the game. I know you have heard this before. Here is the way to make stock effortlessly, seemlessly and without standing over a boiling pot. A crockpot. As soon as that roast chicken dinner is over, the turkey has been picked to the bone or even beef bone from ribs, get out your crockpot. Place all the bones in, add an onion that has been quartered, celery stalks also quartered and rough chopped carrots (don’t even think about peeling them). If you want to get fancy, add a bay leaf and some peppercorns. Fill close to the top with water and turn that baby on. Let it crockpot away for hours, I frequently leave it alone for 24 hours or more. Strain and you are done. Using this method, it takes maybe 20 minutes of active time to make really good stock. Plus you now have a ‘secret’ ingredient in each of your soups that you made by scratch.
Soup is joyful, comforting, filling and sort of like a warm hug from the inside. Amos Lee’s latest album was many of these same qualities. It was warm, joyful, soulful really and very comforting. It was one of my top ten albums of 2016. Spirit pairs wonderfully with Red Kuri Squash soup because both have that homestyle comfort but with depth and richness that leaves you smiling long after.
Red Kuri Squash Soup
About 4 servings
- Medium sized Red Kuri Squash*, cut into cubes 1-2 inches
- 3 cups Turkey or Chicken Stock
- 1 cube of chicken bullion
- 1 onion, halved. Chop one half, quarter the other half
- 1 head of garlic, broken into bulbs, leave the skin on
- 1 small fennel bulb, core cut out, sliced into quarters
- salt and pepper, to taste
- 10-12 sage leaves
- 1/4 cup avocado oil plus 1 tablespoon
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
- In a large pot, add the squash, chopped onion and turkey stock. Bring to boil and reduce heat to low. Continue to simmer until squash is fork tender, roughly 25 minutes.
- On a baking sheet, toss the other half of the onion, garlic bulbs and fennel with 1 tablespoon of avocado oil. Sprinkle generously with salt and pepper. Place the sheet in the oven and roast until all the alliums and fennel are golden brown and tender.
- Add 3/4 of the roasted veggies to the squash pot. Using a food processor (or blender), puree the squash with the veggies. Depending on your size of processor, it may take a couple batches to puree the whole pot. Place the pureed soup back in the pot and keep warm over low heat.
- In a small saucepan, heat the 1/4 cup of avocado oil until hot. Add in half the sage leaves and fry until crisp. This may only be 10 seconds at most, the sage will turn a beautiful dark green and appear stiff like fresh from a frost.
- Ladle the soup into bowls. Top some of the left roasted garlic, onion and fennel. Lastly top with the fried sage leaves. Enjoy!
- Feel free to substitute the Red Kuri squash for another type, Butternut or Acorn would work but if you could find Hubbard or Kabocha, the flavor would be closest. Epicurious has a great guide for winter squash: http://www.epicurious.com/archive/seasonalcooking/farmtotable/visual-guide-winter-squash
- I know the roasted veggies are an extra step but they help add flavor and depth to a fairly simple soup. They are a must!
- So, you may be wondering about the bullion cube. On this soup quest, through countless recipes, cookbooks and trials, this is another undeniable truth. Bullion cubes add depth, flavor and richness that even your homemade delicious stock needs a boost from. Just do it.
- Pair with a buttery, oaky Chard.
If any of my recipes find their way to your kitchen, let me know when you make it and post a photo with the #licoricepizzapie I’d love to see it!