We’re Cooking: Winter Squash and Fennel Soup

My sister and I were given the job to create a fun appetizer to start the Thanksgiving dinner for 9 she and her sweetie threw for the holiday.  We had little ones at the table who couldn’t really dig into spicy food, and we had to steer away from the traditional of the holiday, as those were featured in the main course, and an always go to for me of a dressed up salad was already taken care of.  So, we opted for a winter squash soup with lots of flavorful spices, herbs and seasoning without the heat of chili or peppers.  Warm and delicious, a perfect way to start a holiday meal in which Gary and I were so thankful to be a part of.


Winter Squash and Fennel Soup
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 large butternut squash – peeled, deseeded and chopped into 1 inch cubes
1 large acorn squash – peeled, deseeded and chopped into 1 inch cubes
1 large fennel bulb – cored, frawns removed and chopped
1 large red onion – chopped
4 cloves garlic – minced
2 carrots – chopped
1 tablespoon fresh ginger – chopped
2 tablespoons honey
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon star anise
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional – do not add if spicy food is off limits)
2 tablespoons fresh mint – chopped
2 tablespoons fresh basil – chopped
2 tablespoons fresh parsley – chopped
6 cups chicken stock
1 1/2 cup milk, cream or fat-free half and half
Salt and pepper
Fennel frawns and fresh pomegranate seeds for garnish

In a large stock pot heat 3 tablespoons olive oil over medium heat.  Add the squash, fennel, carrot and onion and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add the garlic and ginger and season with 1 tablespoon each salt and pepper and cook for 5 more minutes.  Stir in all the dried spices and honey, coating all the veggies well and cook for 3 minutes.  Add the chicken stock and bring to a boil.  Boil for 5 minutes then simmer for 15.  Add the fresh herbs in the last 5 minutes of cooking.  Using an immersion blender or a food processor slowly pulse the soup to create a smooth consistency.  Add the milk/cream or fat-free half and half (whatever you prefer, we use fat-free half and half for a thick consistency without all the fat in cream.) Slowly heat the soup through, just below a boil so the milk will not curdle, then simmer until ready to serve.  Serve in soup bowls and garnish with the fennel frawns and fresh pomegranate seeds to look like holly berries and evergreen.


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