Spiced Squash, Fennel & Pear Soup

Squash Fennel & Pear Soup 1

I’ve been secretly referring to this soup all week as my grumpy squash soup. Every time I open the refrigerator door and eye the container of leftovers, I mutter, “grumpy squash.”

I know. I need help.

Yup, this is my grumpy squash soup, because I was mighty grumpy while making it. I participate in French Fridays with Dorie, and I had completely forgotten to prepare the upcoming week’s recipe. I would’ve skipped, but I had already missed last week’s duck recipe and didn’t want a repeat absence.

So, how could soup possibly make SoupAddict grumpy? Well, first, the daylight savings time change threw me off: I was simultaneously exhausted and invigorated all day Sunday. And some impossibly warm November weather had me seasonally confused, wanting to be outside playing in the leaves, not inside cooking comfort food to ward off the cold that was no where in sight.

I already knew I would like this soup, and I had already made a dozen different squash soups so far this Fall. There was no challenge in it. No anticipation. I didn’t care about this squash soup.

I made it anyway. I’m fairly certain that if I had video footage of me making this soup, it would show me shoulder-slumped, pouty-faced and stomping around the kitchen in big flat-footed movements, like a 5-year-old forced to put away her toys.

But I’m glad I did. Even if I didn’t quite stick to the recipe.

Squash Fennel & Pear Soup 2

The recipe is very easy and straightforward, but in my grumpydom, I wanted to cut off as much cook time as possible. Instead of roasting just the squash, I also roasted the pear. Now, that probably neither saved time nor made the soup substantially better, but sometimes you just have to give in to the grump and go with the flow.

I also substituted the spices that Ms. Greenspan calls for with a very similar Chinese Five Spice blend I had sitting in the back of my cabinets. It just seemed the shorter path to measure out one spice rather than three (yes, a whole three spices — I told you I was grumpy).

Squash Fennel & Pear Soup 3

While I inexplicably had a fennel bulb on hand, I did not have an orange (and therefore lacked the peel Dorie calls for), so I had to substitute orange juice. It was still good. How close it ended up to the original, I don’t know, but I’ve been enjoying it for lunch all week long.

And in the end, I guess that’s all that matters. Without further ado, I give you grumpy squash soup.

To see how the other participants fared with their soup, visit frenchfridayswithdorie.com.

P.S.: To all the veterans out there, thank you for your service and self-sacrifice. Whatever good is left in our country, you were responsible for allowing it to happen and persist. To the families of lost soldiers who didn’t have the chance to become veterans, may the peace and love of a grateful nation comfort you. And to my father, proud WWII vet, I’m thinking of you today, as always.

Spiced Squash, Fennel & Pear Soup

adapted from Around My French Table by Dorie Greenspan

Note: this is my variation of the soup. I suspect the result is close to the original, except that I omitted the very distinctive cumin, which I (a) frankly just plain forgot, and (b) in hindsight sounds out of place with the rest of the dish, at least to my personal tastes. This is also a smaller amount than what Dorie’s recipe makes, but can be easily doubled.

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Bake time: 1 hour

Yield: 2 generous servings

1 1/2 pounds squash, such as butternut, cut in half lengthwise, seeds removed (reserve if using for garnish)
1 ripe pear, halved and cored
olive oil
salt and pepper
1 medium sweet onion, diced
1 bulb fennel, cored and chopped
1 stalk celery, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 1/2 teaspoons five spice blend
2 cups chicken broth or vegetable broth
1/4 orange juice
Creme fraiche for garnish
squash seeds for garnish (optional)

Preheat the oven to 400°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or foil.

Rub the insides of the squash and pears with olive oil and place them on the baking sheet, skin side up. Roast in the oven for 30-40 minutes, or until a knife easily pierces the skin of the squash. (If roasting squash seeds, clean them to remove any stringy squash fiber, pat dry, coast them in oil, season with salt and pepper, and add to the baking sheet along with the squash and the pears. Remove the seeds after 20 minutes of roasting.)

Remove from oven and allow squash and pear to cool until they can be handled. Then peel and dice both into small squares. Set aside.

Warm 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a medium stock pot or Dutch oven over medium heat. When oil is shimmering, stir in the onions and saute until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the fennel, celery, garlic and a pinch of salt. Cook, stirring often, for another 5 to 8 minutes, or until the vegetables are soft but not browning. Season the vegetables with the five spice blend, and a pinch each of salt and pepper. Add the squash and pear dices and stir to mix well with the seasoned vegetables.

Pour in the broth, bring to a boil, and then reduce heat to a simmer. Add the orange juice, cover and allow to simmer for 15 minutes. The squash and pears should be soft.

Puree the soup in batches in a blender or use an immersion blender. Taste, and adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper.

Ladle the soup into bowls and garnish with creme fraiche and roasted squash seeds, if using.

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  1. Maya@Foodiva's Kitchen says:

    It sounds as if your grumpiness made this soup taste even better! The roasted pear and five spice mix must’ve given an extra yummy kick, plus your creamy squiggles make me want to dive straight into that bowl :).

  2. I was a little worried when I saw your comment that you couldn’t muster excitement for soup & wondered how such a thing could happen in the world of SoupAddict :-) Maybe some soup art would have saved the day?
    Have a great weekend!

  3. Oh, how funny! Grumpy squash soup! It looks beautiful and I love the zig zig pattern on top. :)

  4. Hey, the bright side of so much grumpiness is that it makes for good writing + reading! Roasting pears seems like a good idea to me. Hopefully you’ll feel more uplifted with next week’s lamb. :)

  5. That soup is delicious! I like your variation. Roasted pears = great.
    But, of course, having you unexcited about a soup makes me :( haha. Glad you enjoyed it nonetheless!

  6. This is such a pretty soup, I love your swirl of creme fraiche. I’m kind of tired of the same old squash and apple soups, so I’ll definitely try this one, thanks!

  7. Your soup looks so pretty! And I love that photo of the split pear!

  8. We ALL have those days!!! But so glad you made yet another squash soup and put your delicious twist on it. Have a great weekend~

  9. Although I like squash soup served all ways, I just like squash soup, I loved your variations. The roasted pear idea, great. And, I’ll drop the cumin when I make it. Good ideas.

  10. That roasted pear certainly looks tasty, and darn pretty at that. Happy to hear that you enjoyed the soup, it would have been such a shame if it had not worked out. Hope the leftovers cheer you up :-)

  11. I agree that this is a forgiving recipe, even if you are grumpy when you make it :) Glad that enjoyed the soup after all.

  12. The time change has totally thrown off my cooking and food photography schedule too, and that makes me very grumpy as well! All’s well that ends well, though – I reall ylove how you garnished your soup!!

  13. You had me at the name of this soup -but the name sounds much better than the soup tastes! I made this for my daughter and myself last night and we were very disappointed in the flavors – plus it was time consuming and was not an appealing color. Although we liked the garnish with the creme fraiche and roasted pumpkin seeds for the top, but I will not make it again. I will stick with my traditional butternut squash soup recipe.

  14. Roasted pear is a great addition – wish I’d thought to do that to mine! Love how your garnish looks and the rich autumn color. I also wasn’t terribly excited about squash soup, and made it when I was packing for a week in Sedona.

  15. Perfect avocado soup. This would really help for my every day diet. It’s my pleasure to get your or to know the recipe of your blog. Hope I can see more recipes for the next few days.

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