In this cozy autumnal recipe, sautéed apples add a sweet note to butternut squash soup that gets a little twist with the addition of both fresh fennel and fennel seeds. The apples and toasted walnuts provide a pleasing textural contrast to the velvety soup while lending just the right amount of sweetness and richness.
Squash and Fennel Soup with Apples and Walnuts
- 2 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 yellow onion, thinly sliced
- 1 fennel bulb, trimmed, cored and thinly sliced, a few fronds reserved for garnish
- Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 Tbs. fennel seeds, ground
- 1 butternut squash (about 2 lb./1 kg), peeled, seeded and cut into 1-inch (2.5-cm) cubes
- 2 Tbs. sherry vinegar
- 3 cups (24 fl. oz./750 ml) chicken or vegetable broth
- 2 Tbs. heavy cream
- 3 Tbs. unsalted butter
- 1 apple, cored and finely diced
- 1/2 cup (2 oz./60 g) coarsely chopped walnuts
- 1/4 cup (2 oz./60 g) crème fraîche
1. In a large pot or Dutch oven over medium heat, warm the olive oil. Add the onion, fennel bulb and a pinch each of salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are softened, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and fennel seeds and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the squash and cook for 5 minutes. Add the vinegar and cook until reduced, about 1 minute. Add the broth and bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer until the squash is very tender, about 20 minutes.
2. Working in batches, carefully puree the soup in a blender or soup maker until very smooth. Return the soup to the pot, stir in the cream and season to taste with salt and pepper. Return to the stove over low heat to keep warm.
3. In a small sauté pan over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the apple and walnuts and cook, stirring occasionally, until the apple is tender and the walnuts are toasted, about 5 minutes. Season to taste with salt.
4. Divide the soup among individual bowls and top each serving with an equal amount of the apple-walnut mixture and the crème fraîche. Garnish each serving with a few fennel fronds and serve immediately. Serves 4.
Williams Sonoma Test Kitchen