Autumn has arrived! It’s taken its time, but now there’s a chill in the air, the leaves are drifting down, and at the market all the root vegetables have made their winter appearance, along with squash of every hue.
Being a squash fan, my first instinct is to make squash soup. I use either red kuri squash (we call it potimarron because it has a distinct chestnut flavor), butternut or what I call “Cinderella squash,” Musqué de Provence.
Each time I make squash soup I think about traveling the by-roads of France to research French Farmhouse Cookbook, and the time I spent time in the Lot et Garonne, in the southwest. There I tasted squash soup flavored with star anise, an unexpected spice to find in this relatively remote region. Why, I wondered, was it there? The answer hearkened back to the spice trade, which made its way through southern France. While spices were being transported – by wagon, by riverboat, by horseback, by foot – star anise was one that fell off the transport and into that local cuisine.
From the moment I discovered this little southwestern culinary surprise I’ve made it my own, and squash soup at On Rue Tatin is always flavored with star anise. I love it, and so will you.
If you don’t want to use a poultry broth, you can make this soup with an Herb Broth base – I’ve given you a recipe here.
This soup is a wonderful base for shellfish or mild tasting fish. If using shellfish, steam it until it is just about cooked through, then add it to the soup right before the final seasoning. If using mild fish, sauté it in butter, season it lightly with salt, pepper, and a bit of curry powder and set atop the soup right before serving. Here’s a hint before we get started.