It’s actually embarrassing how little cooking I’ve done the past few weeks. I might have 2 pizza boxes out waiting for the trash man this very moment.
You can relate though, right? I mean you spend all this time before the holidays baking and planning the BIG dinner without really thinking about all the little meals in between. You come home, starving, look in the fridge and realize every time you’ve run to the grocery store in the last week it was for butter, heavy cream, another bag of flour, powdered sugar…
…and the pizza man’s phone rings.
But now it’s time. The Christmas cookies have been baked and (mostly) eaten, the big dinner is over. It’s time to break the cycle, time to erase the pizza delivery number from your recent call history. Time to get back to cooking real food. It’s time for soup.
Today it’s a velvety Kabocha squash and sunchoke soup. And it’s a good one. Really, really good even. It’s creamy and comforting with warm spices and a little sweet, nutty, can’t-quite-put-your-finger-on-it-yumminess from the roasted sunchokes.
The spotlight is split between 2 star ingredients: Kabocha squash and sunchokes.
Breakdown the squash. Oil, season, roast.
Onto the sunchokes. Do you know sunchokes? My serving experience tells me you might not, so I’ll give you the same spiel I give my customers.
Sunchokes are also known as Jerusalem artichokes. They’re knobby, gnarly tubers that grow beneath sunflowers. They look kind of like ginger root, have the texture of a potato, and the flavor of an artichoke.
It’s usually this point that my guests will start nodding. Is it because I’ve done such a brilliant job of describing sunchokes and what I’ve said is really resonating with them or are they just doing whatever they can to get me away from their table? Your call. The take-away lesson is that sunchokes are totally delicious and you should definitely give them a try if you haven’t already.
Peel and chunk the ‘chokes. Get them in the oven with the squash. Save the skins and use them in a quick vegetable stock while everything is roasting.
I can’t think of a reason not to make a quick stock while you’re waiting. Toss a couple of carrots, a rib of celery, an onion, all those sunchoke trimmings, and a clove of garlic in a big pot. Sweat the veggies for a minute or two, cover with water and toss in a sprig of rosemary, a bay leaf, a handful of parsley, and let it simmer. By the time your squash is ready, you’ll have a great broth that will yield an even tastier soup.
When your squash is tender, scrap out the flesh, and pop it in your food processor or blender with the roasted sunchokes, spice it up with nutmeg and cinnamon. Add some stock and let the motor run until the soup is perfectly smooth and perfectly irresistible.
Add a touch of cream and gently reheat.
This soup is best with a crunchy garnish. I like to make croutons fried up in butter and sprinkled with rosemary. Or do the same with a shaved sunchoke. If you’re feeling fancy, you could swirl in a bit more cream or a dollop of creme fraiche.
Enough holiday baking. Enough delivery pizza. We’re cooking again. It’s good to be back.
- 3# Kabocha Squash (1 large or 2 small), quartered
- 1½# Sunchokes (Jerusalem Artichokes), scrubbed, peeled (peels reserved for stock- see notes), and cut in 1 inch chunks
- about 4 c. Vegetable Broth (preferably homemade- see notes)
- ½ c. Heavy Cream
- ½ tsp. Cinnamon, divided
- ⅛ tsp. Cayenne (Red Pepper)
- ⅛ tsp. Nutmeg, freshly grated
- 1 sprig Fresh Rosemary
- Additional Garnishes, as desired (see suggestions listed above)
- Olive Oil, Salt, Black Pepper
- Preheat oven to 400°.
- Place squash on sheet pan, flesh side up. Lightly coat with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt, cayenne pepper, and ¼ tsp. cinnamon. Roast until tender, about 1 hour.
- Place sunchokes on a separate sheet pan. Toss with olive oil and season with salt. Roast until tender, 45 minutes-1 hour, stirring a couple times to prevent sticking.
- Scoop flesh from roasted squash and place in a food processor or blender. Add roasted sunchokes, remaining cinnamon, and nutmeg. With the motor running, add broth through the feed tube until the vegetables are very smooth and the soup is desired consistency.
- Place squash and sunchoke puree in a heavy-bottomed pot with cream and gently heat over a medium-low flame. Divide among soup bowl, garnish with fresh rosemary and other accoutrements.