This is another one of those recipes my wife made that is so good I didn't want to wait to share it until I had made it myself. From Suzanne Goin’s Sunday Suppers at Lucques
, it is perfect mix of flavors, textures, sweetness and heat. It is definitely worth the effort.
Preheat the oven to 400 F.
Toss the squash and fennel with the olive oil, 1 teaspoon salt, and some freshly ground black pepper. Place the vegetables flat on a baking sheet and roast about 35 minutes, until tender and slightly caramelized.
Meanwhile, toast the fennel seeds in a small pan over medium heat 2 to 3 minutes, until the seeds release their aroma and are lightly browned. Pound them coarsely in a mortar.
Heat a Dutch oven or soup pot over high heat for 2 minutes. Add the butter, and when it foams, add the onions, fennel seeds, thyme, chiles, bay leaf, 1 teaspoon salt, and a good amount of freshly ground black pepper. Reduce the heat to medium-high, and cook about 10 minutes, stirring often, until the onions are soft, translucent and starting to color.
Add the squash and fennel, and stir to coat with the onions for a minute.
Turn the heat back up to high and pour in the sherry. Let it reduce for a minute or two, and then add the stock. Bring to a boil, turn down the heat and simmer 20 minutes.
Strain the soup in a colander set in a pot. Discard the bay leaf. Put a third of the solids into a blender with 1/2 cup of the broth. (You will need to puree the soup in batches.) Process at the lowest speed until the squash mixture is pureed. Add another 1/2 cup broth and then turn the speed up to high and pour in more liquid, a little at a time, until the soup has the consistency of heavy cream. Blend at least a minute on high speed, until the soup is completely smooth and very creamy.
Transfer to a container, and repeat with the rest of the ingredients. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve topped with candied pumpkin seeds.
Candied Pumpkin Seeds
Toast the cumin seeds in a small pan over medium heat 2 to 3 minutes, until the seeds release their aroma and are lightly browned. Pound them coarsely in a mortar.
Melt the butter in the cumin pan over medium heat. Add the pumpkin seeds and sugar, then sprinkle the spices and a healthy pinch of salt over them.
Toss the pumpkin seeds to coat them well with the butter and cook a few minutes, until just after they begin to pop and color slightly.
Turn off the heat and wait 30 seconds. Add the honey, tossing well to coat the pumpkin seeds. Spread on a plate and let them cool.