GINGERED BUTTERNUT SQUASH SOUP WITH SPICY PECAN CREAM

This comes from Food and Wine contributed by Dean Fearing who likes the squash combined with ginger.  The pecans in the cream topping add crunch.  “I think everything should have a little bit of crunch to it.  Plus, this is Texas, and pecans are Texas,” he says.  My guests raved about it.  Recipe serves 12. soup

2 large butternut squash ( 5 1/2 pounds), halved lengthwise and seeded

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

3/4 cup pecans (2 ounces)

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 large onion, cut into 1/2  inch dice

1 small fennel bulb– halved, cored and cut into 1/2 inch dice

One 1 1/2 inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and finely chopped (I like ginger and will add more next time)

6 cups chicken stock

One 14-ounce can of unsweetened coconut milk

3/4 cup chilled heavy cream

1 teaspoon hazelnut oil

1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Kosher salt

1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and rub cut sides of squash with the olive oil, and set them, cut side down, on a large rimmed baking sheet.  Bake squash for abut 1 hour, or until very tender.  Remove from oven and let stand until cool enough to handle.  Spooon squash flesh into a large blow.  Discard skins.

In a pie plate, toast pecans for about 8 minutes, or until lightly browned and fragrant; let nuts cool.

In a large pot, melt butter.  Add onion, fennel and ginger and cook over moderate hear until softened, about 8 minutes.  Add squash and the chicken stock, cover and simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Uncover pot and continue cooking until squash starts to fall apart, about 10 minutes.  Remove from heat and stir in coconut milk.

Meanwhile, in food processor, pulse pecans until they are finely chopped.  In medium bowl beat cream until soft peaks form.  Fold in chopped pecans, hazelnut oil and cayenne pepper and season with salt.

Working in batches, puree the squash soup in a blender until smooth.  Stir in the lemon juice and season with salt.  Ladle soup into bowls, top with dollop of pecan cream and serve.

Make ahead.  Soup can be refrigerated for up to two days.  Reheat gently, adding a bit of chicken stock to thin if needed.

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