Serious Eats: Recipes

Dinner Tonight: Squash and Fennel Soup with Candied Pumpkin Seeds

[Photograph: Blake Royer]

Sometimes at fancy restaurants the waiter will begin the meal with a flourish, quietly intoning words to the effect of "compliments of the chef," making you feel as if you're a special guest of the restaurant. The amuse-bouche, as it's known, is sometimes a little shot glass of a layered, complex soup. I've long wondered how a mouthful of puréed vegetables and broth could have the unbelievable density of flavor a restaurant achieves. My butternut squash soups have never tasted like much beyond...butternut squash. Until now.

Yes, this Squash and Fennel Soup with Candied Pumpkin Seeds is incredible. I had no idea what I was getting into. The steps are numerous (as are most recipes from Sunday Supper at Lucques), and the ingredients list is a bit longer than usual for this column, but apparently every step and ingredients is essential (including the creation of candied pumpkin seeds, which is surprisingly easy).

The result of this recipe is creamy without a drop of dairy (though a little crème fraîche or Greek yogurt can be dolloped in to finish it). The flavor is rich, gently spicy, warming and filling yet light and delicate. I really could go on for paragraphs about this soup, but I'll just leave it at that and say: please cook it as soon as you can.

About the author: Blake Royer founded The Paupered Chef with Nick Kindelsperger, where he writes about food and occasional travels. After a year in Estonia, he's now living in Chicago.

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