A simple squash soup for the late autum, from Chow
- 1½ to 2 pounds butternut, kabocha, or buttercup squash
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons rendered duck fat or butter
- ½ cup chopped onion
- ½ pound Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and cubed
- 3 garlic cloves, peeled and halved
- 4 cups unsalted chicken stock (storebought or homemade—page 405)
- Salt and freshly ground pepper
- Freshly grated nutmeg
- 1 cup heavy cream
- Pinch of piment d’Espelette or any moderately hot red pepper (see Mail Order Sources, pages 415–417)
- 2½ ounces jambon de Bayonne, Serrano ham, or prosciutto, trimmed of fat and cut into thin ribbons
- 6 thin slices of stale baguette
- 2 tablespoons minced fresh chives
- Preheat the oven to 400°F.
- Wash the squash, halve lengthwise, and lay cut side down on a foil-lined baking sheet.
- Bake about 30 minutes, until soft.
- Turn the squash over, turn off the heat, and let the squash finish cooking and browning in the hot, turned-off oven for 10 minutes longer.
- Remove the squash and let stand until cool enough to handle. Scoop out the seeds and cut away the skin; discard.
- Meanwhile, heat the oil and half the duck fat or butter in a heavy 4-quart pot over moderately low heat.
- Add the onion, potatoes, and 1 of the garlic cloves and slowly cook the vegetables until soft and pale golden, 10 to 15 minutes.
- Add the chicken broth and simmer for 30 minutes.
- Scrape the roasted squash into a food processor or blender.
- Add a few tablespoons of the hot soup broth and puree until velvet-smooth.
- Working in batches, puree the contents of the pot. Or if you have an immersion blender, puree the soup directly in the pot. Season with salt, pepper, and nutmeg to taste.
- Add the cream and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 5 minutes to blend the flavors.
- In a medium skillet, heat the remaining duck fat with a pinch each of black pepper and piment d’Espelette.
- Add the ribbons of ham and the rounds of bread and sauté over moderately high heat until slightly crisp, about 2 minutes.
- Serve the soup garnished with the ham, toasted bread, and chives.