African Squash Soup with Walnut Cream
- Yield 8 servings
- Prep 30 mins
- Cook 45 mins
Both the walnut cream and the soup can be prepared ahead of time, making this a wonderful recipe for a dinner party.
Butternut squash also works well in this recipe.
- Walnut cream:
- 3 tablespoons sugar
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 1 cup (4 ounces) California walnut pieces
- 2 tablespoons Cognac or brandy
- 1 cup chicken broth
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 3 tablespoons maple syrup
- 1/2 teaspoon salt, to taste
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper, to taste
- 3 1/2 to 4 pounds African (or butternut) squash
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 1 cup chopped Vidalia onion, or yellow onion
- 1 quart chicken broth
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper
- To prepare the walnut cream, put the sugar in a medium-sized, heavy saucepan and place over medium-high heat. Stir the sugar constantly; in 2 or 3 minutes it will begin to melt, then change in color from clear to golden as the sugar caramelizes. The entire process takes approximately 5 – 7 minutes, depending on the heat and your pan. When the sugar is golden brown, immediately and carefully add the butter and walnut pieces (the sugar and pan are very, very hot). Reduce the heat to medium and stir for 2 – 3 minutes, until the walnuts have browned slightly. Add the Cognac and chicken stock, then cover and simmer over low heat for about 20 minutes, until the walnut pieces are quite soft. Remove from heat and add the cream and maple syrup. In a blender or food processor, puree the mixture until smooth. Pour into a large bowl and season with salt and pepper to taste. Let cool, and refrigerate if you are not using shortly. If chilled, bring to room temperature before serving.
- To prepare the soup, peel the skin from the squash and scrape out all of the seeds. Cut the squash into cubes or chunks 1/2 – 1 inch across. You will need 2 quarts (8 cups) of prepared squash.
- Heat the butter in a large, deep pan over moderate heat. Add the onions and the prepared squash, and cook, stirring frequently, for 7 – 10 minutes, until the bits of onion have softened and become translucent but not browned. Add the chicken stock and bring to a boil over high heat. Cover and cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, until the squash is tender when pierced, about 20 minutes; the liquid should boil gently.
- In a food processor or blender, puree the soup, in batches if necessary, until smooth. Return the pureed soup to the saucepan, add the cream, and season with salt and pepper to taste. The soup may be cooled to room temperature, covered and refrigerated until serving. Before serving, reheat gently, stirring frequently, until hot but not boiling.
- When you are ready to serve, using a large whisk or a hand-held mixer, whip the walnut cream for a minute or two, just until it thickens slightly and looks creamy.
- Pour the hot soup into heated bowls and garnish with a generous spoonful of walnut cream.
Recipe courtesy of Chef Shaun Doty of Shaun’s Restaurant in Atlanta, Ga.