Back then, I spotted this tantalizing soupy stew from Denis Cotter with squash, chickpeas and fennel and I knew I wanted to try it. I bookmarked it last year, and now that I have an abundance of squash and these vegetables are back in season, it was time to make it!
Whenever you make a Cotter recipe, be prepared to dirty a bunch of pots and pans. I stream-lined the process slightly by omitting the croutons, but still oven-roasted my squash for the soup. I have become smitten with eating squashes I don’t have to peel (kabocha and delicata) but roasting makes peeling squash a heck of a lot easier. I have my tricks for tackling butternut squash, though. I pierce the squash a few times with a fork, then microwave it for 5 minutes before peeling it. I also usually peel the tubular and bulbous parts separately.
This soup did not disappoint. Chickpeas and squash go so well together. Savoury cumin and fennel seeds augment the mellow fennel, leek and shallots. Ginger and chile flakes add a nice zip and lemon juice balances it all. A hearty meal in a bowl, perfect for warming up with this colder weather. A new favourite, for sure.
1000g winter squash (I used a mix of delicata and kabocha squash), washed
800ml water, divided (or vegetable stock)
1 tbsp olive oil
60g shallots, finely diced (2 large shallots)
200g fennel, finely diced (1 small fennel bulb)
4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1.5 tbsp grated ginger
3 cups leeks, washed and thinly sliced
2 cups cooked chickpeas, rinsed and drained if canned
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp fennel seeds, ground
1/2 tsp Aleppo chili flakes
100ml dry white wine (I used sake)
2 tbsp lemon juice
1. Preheat oven to 375F.
2. Cut the squash in half and remove the seeds. Brush the squash flesh with olive oil and place the squash, cut-side down, in an oven-proof dish. Pour in 200mL of water and roast squash for 30-45 minutes, until tender.
3. Meanwhile, in a large soup pot, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add shallots and fennel and saute for 2 minutes. Add the garlic, ginger, leek, chickpeas, cumin, fennel seeds and chile flakes and saute for 5 more minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the white wine, bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat and allow to simmer for 15 minutes.
4. When the squash is tender, scoop out the flesh and chop it coarsely. The delicata will be more mushy while the kabocha will be more firm. Add this to the soup with the remainder of the water. Bring to a boil and simmer, uncovered, for 5 minutes. Stir in the lemon juice and season with salt and pepper.
Serves 4 (makes 8 cups).