Sweet Mama Squash Soup

Preparation info

  • Difficulty

    Medium

  • Serves

    6 to 8

Appears in

China Moon Cookbook

By Barbara Tropp

Published 1992

  • About

The name of this soup is as beguiling as its taste. The brainchild of André Fecteau, one of China Moon’s more colorful sous-chefs (for a sideline, he manages a rock group), it is a fabulously smooth and velvety soup with a vibrant gold-orange hue. Very un-Chinese in its basic ingredient, this is nonetheless a soup that goes wonderfully well with many of our foods.

Sweet Mama is a variety of winter squash that tastes to my tongue like a cross between butternut and pumpkin. Most any sweet, nutty squash may be used in its stead. Perfection and Delicata are other suitably delicious, poetic varieties.

Baking the squash may be done in advance. The whole soup stores and reheats beautifully.

Ingredients

  • 3 pounds hard-skinned yellow squash, such as Sweet Mama, Perfection, or Delicata
  • 1 tablespoon corn or peanut oil
  • 1 small yellow onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon finely minced fresh ginger
  • teaspoons finely minced garlic
  • 1 thumbnail-size piece cassia or cinnamon bark
  • 1 whole star anise, broken into 8 points
  • 10 cups China Moon Double Stock or Vegetable Infusion
  • Sugar
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground pepper

Garnishes

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F.
  2. Cut the squash in half, discard the seeds, and place cut side down on a foil-lined baking sheet. Bake in the oven until very soft and oozing, 50 to 60 minutes for a large squash. Let cool. Discard the peel (scraping well to reserve any flesh), then cut the squash into chunks.
  3. In a large, heavy, non-aluminum stockpot, heat the oil over moderate heat until hot enough to sizzle an onion slice slowly. Add the onion, ginger, garlic, cassia, and star anise, tossing well to combine. Cover the pot, lower the heat to prevent scorching, and sweat the onion until very soft and juicy, about 15 minutes. This sweating is crucial; don’t rush it, or the soup will lack depth.
  4. Add the squash and stock, stir to mix, and bring slowly to a near boil over moderate heat, stirring occasionally. Turn off the heat, cover the pot, and let the soup stand for 30 minutes for the flavors to marry. If serving immediately, discard the cassia and anise, then purée the soup in batches in a blender or food processor.
  5. If working in advance, the purée may be left, uncovered, at room temperature or in the refrigerator to cool, then sealed and refrigerated for several days before serving. Be careful when cooling the purée—its thickness traps the heat. To cool it swiftly (to avoid souring), you may wish to divide it into 2 or 3 containers and nest them uncovered in an ice bath, stirring occasionally to release the steam.
  6. To serve the soup, bring it slowly to a near simmer over moderate heat, whisking occasionally to prevent scorching. Turn off the heat, taste, and adjust as required first with sugar, then with kosher salt, and finally, with enthusiastic twists of pepper. Don’t be hesitant; the soup invites generous seasoning and the squash may require several tablespoons of sugar if it lacked sweetness at the start.
  7. Serve in heated bowls of contrasting color, garnished with a hill of the fried ginger, a sprinkling of the almonds, and a scattering of coriander leaves.