Pumpkin, pear, and fennel soup

December 4, 2011 at 1:21 am (Fall recipes, Peter Berley, soup, unrated, Winter recipes)

I could have sworn I blogged about this recipe before, but I can’t find any post about it, so here it is again.  This is a recipe from the fall section of Peter Berley’s Fresh Food Fast.    Despite the name, the recipe doesn’t actually call for any fennel.  At least, not the vegetable.  Rather, it calls for fennel seed, which Berley says brings out the natural sweetness in other ingredients.  I can’t vouch for that, but I really like fennel seed in savory dishes.  I was very excited to try the combination of squash, pear, leeks, ginger, and fennel seeds.

I’ve made this recipe twice now, and both times it was fine but both the color and flavor were a bit… wan?  I toasted and ground my fennel, as instructed, but still I couldn’t taste the fennel seed (or the pear).  Derek said he could detect a bit of pear, but he still wasn’t too fond of the recipe.  Maybe my pears simply weren’t flavorful enough?  Or I didn’t use the right kind of winter squash?  I used butternut squash, and sometimes I suspect that the butternuts here in Germany aren’t as flavorful as the ones I used to get in America.  A friend of mine here in Saarbruecken also said he made this soup, and although it worked fine, he was also underwhelmed by it.  Maybe the soup simply isn’t that exciting without the garnishes–the creme fraiche, apple cider, and ground cinnamon.

I have fond memories of my friend Spoon’s ever-changing but always delicious birthday pumpkin soup, which also had fruit and interesting spices in it.  But alas, this pumpkin soup wasn’t similar at all.  Perhaps Spoons or Kathy will share their recipe?


  1. kcopic said,

    Hi Rose! We’re just working on the Spoons-birthday-dinner plans this week, and looking at old recipes. Here’s one.

    Acorn Squash (“Birthday”) Soup
    4-6 servings

    2 squash (1 acorn, 1 butternut or other winter variety)
    1 apple (preferably Fuji or Gala)
    2-3 shallots
    1-2 c broth (chicken or vegetable) or water

    1/4 t nutmeg
    1/8 t cinnamon
    1/8 t paprika
    (pinch) cumin
    (pinch) cayenne pepper

    1/4 c creme fraiche, sour cream or plain yogurt

    1. Preheat oven to 350. Clean outside of squash, cut in half and remove
    seeds. Place cut-side down in baking dish. Halve, core and peel apple;
    place cut-side down in dish. Add whole, peeled shallots to the dish as
    well. Cover tightly with aluminum foil and bake until fully cooked,
    approximately 1 hour. Watch carefully that the squash liquid and other
    things don’t burn. Add stock to pans if needed during baking. Remove
    from oven and cool enough to handle. Use stock to deglaze pans if
    browned good stuff is present.

    2. Using blender, thoroughly puree apple and shallots along with pan
    liquid, using additional broth/water as necessary. Remove the skin from
    squash and puree (in batches if necessary), again using broth as
    necessary. May be prepared 1 day in advance.

    3. Add blended mixture to a pot and warm over low heat. Add spices,
    tasting carefully along the way. Serve on cold fall or winter evenings with
    1 T of creme fraiche and a dash of nutmeg.

  2. spoons said,

    I used to put stock in the baking dish when I roasted them cut-side up, but Kathy did some editing on the recipe I used in 2002-2003 — I think you taught us about roasting cut-side down — and the whole covering and liquids thing is not necessary. Other variations were based on different spices or with the addition of ingredients like sweet potatoes or coconut milk.

    Don’t be afraid of nutmeg!

    • captious said,

      Thanks for the recipe Spoons and Kathy! So you now roast the squash dry, cut side down? What do you do about the shallots and apple? Take them out early? I would think if you left them in as long as the squash they’d burn.

      I’m going to try to make this this week.

  3. milapostol said,

    I’ve been making this soup from Berley’s book for a couple years now too. I’ve found with this recipe that I have to put more butter and salt for this one. This soup has always been a crowd pleaser for me.

    Best wishes,

  4. Pumpkin, Pear, and Fennel Soup – Nimble Veggies said,

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