With fresh biscuits

With fresh biscuits

Warm, comforting soup is the French antidote to everything – winter’s chill, low spirits, oncoming cold or fever, taxes, strikes, you name it.

My household is no exception. And yesterday, with the wind whipping over the ears of the gargoyles on the church across the street,  the specter of taxis blocking roads, air traffic controllers keeping planes on the ground, and the sncf (train system) threatening to stop traffic, soup was clearly the best revenge.

 

potimarron

I had one last potimarron (they disappear quickly from the market stands) and it was the perfect choice for soup.   Potimarron, called kuri, hokkaido, or baby hubbard, was developed by the Japanese on the island of Hokkaido, has become a global favorite, and rightly so.  It’s flavor is a lilting combination of nutty pumpkin and sweet, smooth chestnut, it is quick cooking and it doesn’t need to be peeled. What could be better?

The toughest thing about preparing potimarron, whose French name comes from the word potiron (pumpkin) and marron (chestnut) is that first cut; it’s a solid vegetable that resists, and wants to roll right away from you.  You’ve got to master it, or it will master you.

So, before doing any cutting,  slice off the bottom to create a flat surface, preventing it from rolling away.  Second, use a large knife blade and lean on it until it breaks the surface and goes right through. Once you’ve cut it apart, it is smooth sailing.  Alternatively, you can use a cleaver and exercise your eye-hand coordination.

Once you’ve cut into it, use a spoon to scoop out the seeds and string.  Cut it into chunks, put it in a pan with salt and star anise, cover it by at least 2-inches with water , which you bring to a boil over medium-high heat.  Reduce the heat so the water is simmering, cover the pan and wait about 30 minutes.  By then, the squash will be soft through.  Remove the star anise, puree the mixture and voila! You’ve got one of  the best soups known to humankind.

Here is a formal recipe. Bon Appetit!

Potimarron (Kuri) Soup
Soupe au Potimarron

This is the simplest possible version of this soup and, to my mind, the best. However, you can vary it in one million ways. I might suggest sautéing a diced onion before adding the squash and water; drizzling it with pumpkin oil right before serving, or setting a piece of sautéed foie gras on top. You can add bacon at the last minute too, or minced parsley.

1-1/2 pounds (750g) kuri squash, peeled and cut into small cubes

1 mounded teaspoon coarse sea salt

2 star anise

Sea salt and freshly ground black peppe

  1. Place the squash into a medium-sized saucepan and cover it by 3-inches (7.5 cm) of filtered water. Add the sea salt and the star anise and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat, cover and cook until the squash is tender through, about 25 minutes
  2. Remove the star anise, purée the soup, then season it to taste with salt and pepper.
  1. Divide the soup among six soup bowls. Sprinkle with fleur de sel before serving, if desired.

6 Servings

 

 

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8 Responses to Soup as Antidote

  1. Karen says:

    Sounds delicious! What would you recommend in place of the potimarron that would be easier to find here in the northeast?

    • Susan says:

      Karen – try any solid, slightly sweet squash like hubbard, or butternut. Butternut is a bit more delicate, but it too makes an amazing soup. Good luck!

  2. I love that squash and I am always on the look out for it here at farmers market. So far no luck, but you never know.

    • Susan says:

      I’m surprised it isn’t easier to find. You know where you might find it? At a Japanese grocery. Maybe. Worth a try, though you can also use butternut.

  3. Susan says:

    It sounds delicious. I have a Thai pumpkin coconut soup simmering in my slow cooker today. What will you serve with your soup?

  4. Nancy in Alberta says:

    Beautiful! The seasoning is surprising to me, but I’d like to try it.
    Would you use chicken stock for this, or no? I’m trying to incorporate it into my menu more.

    • Susan says:

      Hello, Nancy! The seasoning is traditional French, from the Midi-Pyrenees, where the spice trade dropped star-anise into the regional cuisine there! I use water – I prefer it, because it makes a lighter, more pure soup. You can use chicken stock if you like, though.

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