winter squash soup with buckwheat groats and parsnip vermicelli

In winter I make soup at least once a week, trying to use fresh, locally grown vegetables that will not trigger any reaction from my sulfite-sensitive Significant Other. So, no onions to start with. The only problem is, we don’t agree on the meaning of the word « soup ». To him, it means a broth with lots of bits to chew on : vegetables, and also bits of meat – he is, in spite of my vegetable-based cooking, so very much a carnivorous. Back to the meaning of the word « soup ». As a French person, I enjoy the smooth, thicker texture of a « velouté » that you get after blending everything together. So here is a compromise : blended squash with buckwheat groats and bits of parsnip. The green specs you see in the photo come from the parsley and basil (fresh from my freezer, last summer’s crop!) which add more nutrients (don’t forget your iron, ladies!) as well as a subtle flavor.

The only difficulty in this recipe is cutting and peeling the squash, especially if using kabocha, without chopping your fingers off, unless of course you are thinking of adding extra bits of protein in your soup for your Significant Other (I know, I’m being gross here, sorry!). Also, this is one of the rare instances where I peel the parsnip before shredding it into strips : I have found that the outer peel is a little hard on my special julienne knife, to the point of breaking off one of its teeth one time. You don’t want any metal in your soup, do you ?

Ingredients for 4 servings: (note : the basil is missing in the photo, it was still in the freezer when I took it)

800 g to 1 kg (28 to 35 oz) either pumpkin, red curi or kabocha squash (my favorite here)

some parsley (less than shown in the photo)

– 4 nice basil leaves, fresh or frozen)

– 1 liter (1 quart) water (if you are sulfite-sensitive the quality of water might matter, and this depends on where you live)

– 1 1/2 tsp coarse unrefined sea salt / celtic sea salt

– 1 TBSP buckwheat groats (may be substituted with buckwheat flakes, I would make it 2 TBSP in that case)

– 250 g (9 oz) parsnip

How to: (estimated total time : 1 hour)

1. Peel and cut squash into big chunks, put in large saucepan along with water, parsley, basil and salt. Cook on low after boiling point, covered, for about 15 minutes. Check squash for tenderness with a knife.

2. Blend until smooth. Add buckwheat and return pan to low heat, still covered, 10 minutes to start with. Meanwhile, peel and shred parsnip into julienne strips. If you don’t have a special julienne knife, no sweat : just cut thin strips with a regular knife, keeping in mind that it will take you a little longer. I myself didn’t invest into this nifty culinary tool until two years ago !

3. Add parsnip strips to soup and cook an additional 10 minutes, or until groats are soft. Remove from heat. You can serve the soup at this point or let it sit another 5 minutes, which will cause the groats to expand and thicken the soup a little more.

I truly love this soup. What is there not to like about squash ?



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