It’s that time of year once again, time to take the ice cream maker out of the freezer and start stocking up on soup for those cold winter days when I’m too lazy to cook. I love soup and it is one of my favorite winter meals. It’s just so warming and comforting and (usually) nutritious. It is also one of the few recipes which I never half or quarter, regardless of how many servings it makes. Instead I make the full batch and freeze the leftovers. And this week’s French Fridays with Dorie recipe, Spiced Squash, Fennel, and Pear Soup is officially the first soup to move into my freezer this season. I’m a little happier just knowing it’s there!
This week’s recipe was also a reminder of why I love my local produce stand so much. All over Germany we have these ubiquitous little outdoor produce stands which are neither grocery store nor farm stand. In the main square near my apartment are three such stands, none of which ever seems to be hurting for customers. The owners of these stands are not farmers, but instead source their produce from various distributors, depending on the season. What I love about these stands (or at least what I love about my stand) is the level of service. The guys who work there really know their stuff and are always willing to provide a helpful tip or give you a taste of something. And what I really love is that, unlike at the grocery store, I can buy as little or as much of each item as I need. If I need one stalk of celery and not an entire bundle, I can buy one stalk of celery. If Dorie’s recipe calls for 1.5 kilos of pumpkin, but the smallest pumpkin available is 4 kilos, all I have to do is ask and they will cut me off a piece exactly the size I need and wrap up the rest to sell to the next customer. No need to worry about figuring out what to do with all that leftover pumpkin!
But on with the recipe. I have made many a pumpkin and/or squash soups in my lifetime, but this was the first time that pear and fennel were thrown into the mix. And while I can’t say that the taste of either was particularly pronounced in the end product, both added a subtle little complexity of flavor which I really enjoyed.
My soup was also a timely reminder that I need to buy new spices before Thanksgiving rolls around because my soup was decidedly not “spiced” as the name indicates that it should be. However, considering that it has been a very long time since I refreshed my spices, I blame myself and not the recipe. And I have to ask, am I the only one? I mean, I think we have all read the guidelines for how long ground spices keep their spiciness, but does anyone else really use up their spices that quickly? And if ground spices really have such a short shelf life, why the heck are they sold in such large quantities? I just find it so depressing to have to throw away half the container of cinnamon, even though the only hint one would have that it is cinnamon is the label on the jar because it long ago stopped smelling like anything at all. But enough whining I guess, time to suck it up and go shopping before I end up with a flavorless pumpkin pie.