spiced squash, fennel, and pear soup

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.

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16 Responses to spiced squash, fennel, and pear soup

  1. Definistely a subtle soup but complex at the same time. We also loved this – will be adding to our roster of winter soups.

  2. I love that you are able to customize your purchases at your local stand, as I always have that same problem of what to do with leftovers. As for dried spices, I use them in my cooking on a daily basis so those I tend to buy in bulk. Things like ground cinnamon and nutmeg are often used in my baking as well and somehow I’m constantly replenishing those!

  3. Eileen says:

    I’d give your spice a test run in something else before tossing them. I didn’t taste a whole lot of spiciness in this soup back when I made it. The longer it sat in the freezer, the more pronounced the ginger, especially, became, so I wouldn’t necessarily blame old spices right off the bat. Definitely figure it out before you make a pumpkin pie, though! mmmmm…pie.

    • While I’d love to blame the recipe instead of myself, my cinnamon didn’t even smell like cinnamon anymore when I opened the jar. I was already thinking it had been a bit too long before I made this recipe, and now I know for sure that it is time to restock.

  4. SoupAddict says:

    I agree about the spices! But finally, I’m able to buy them in bulk locally (although by “bulk” I mean that I can buy however much I want of each – more of some, less of others). Whenever possible, I buy the whole spice (say, cumin seeds instead of ground cumin) and grind small batches. Whole spices last much longer than pre-ground. This soup is definitely freezer worthy! Tchüss!

  5. Elaine says:

    The German produce stands sound like they would be so much fun shopping at. Your soup looks so good and thank you for the reminder to freeze some of the leftovers. I also keep my spices probably longer than you are supposed to because I hate to throw them out, especially when some of them cost so much. I love that Whole Foods stock spices in smaller amounts and for Dorie’s recipes I have been buying those instead of the larger bottles which I hope will cut down on the number of spices I have to toss.

  6. Kathy says:

    I love to have a stock pile of soup in my freezer, too! For those nights that you just don’t feel like cooking! Your soup looks perfectly delicious! The flavors in this soup melded so well. Glad you enjoyed it! Happy Weekend!

  7. Tricia S. says:

    I agree that your local stands sound like such fun to shop in- I imagine they provide even more inspiration to the whole process than running to the standard “big box” American grocery store in search of ingredients. Not that I can complain- Nana is usually out doing all the searching for ingredients on my behalf 🙂 And I am in agreement over using that Cardamom again – don’t mind really paying for these spices but I definitely wonder how much will go to waste when I pick up a new one for Dorie recipe. Lovely shots of your soup – sop glad you enjoyed it. Happy FF !!

  8. That’s top-notch customer service! I notice similar vegetable stands too when I visited small towns in Denmark. The personal attention is something I totally miss shopping at supermarkets. Your soup looks fantastic and the crouton must be tasty with every sip! Which kind of pumpkin do you plan to use for your pumpkin pie?

  9. Cher says:

    Oh no! Don’t take out the ice cream container from the freezer (mine lives in there year round and I seem to make more ice cream during the winter than the summer, weird, huh?)
    Good service – wherever you find it- is a thing of beauty. Glad you enjoyed the soup – I am sure you will enjoy every container full 🙂
    Have a great weekend.

  10. Great post and photos! Kudos for actually making the soup this week.

  11. Betsy says:

    I wish I had a German produce stand around the corner. It sounds like a delightful place to shop. I love soup too. I make some every week in the colder months. It’s the perfect thing to have for lunch. I didn’t find the fennel or pears to have a strong flavor either, and I agree with you about the added complexity. What a winner!

  12. Cakelaw says:

    How lovely that they will cut off the right sized piece of pumpkin for you. That wouldn’t happen here! Your soup looks great.

  13. Alice says:

    I would throw it out and suck it up. Its not great for your wallet, but it ensures that your spices will be fresh. Do you have a spice stand near to you? I have one about 45mins away and I can buy just a tiny amount, like a few TBS or tsp worth, depending on how much I use the spice and what recipe it goes into. And I keep them in old spice jars that I have cleaned out. If it helps, when we got our spice rack that comes filled with spices, I went ahead and dumped them all and re-filled them with fresh spices, replacing some that I have never and will never use (ie. obnoxious things like “pizza blend”… oi.)… Your soup looks fab though!

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