October 20th, 2008

Acorn Squash, Pear and Aduki Soup with Sauteed Shiitakes

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Serves 6

Acorn Squash Soup

A fresh hearty autumnal soup, studded with pretty red aduki beans and with just a hint of fragrant five spice. I love the salty chewy sesame shiitakes that “adorn” the soup and pull all the flavors together. Prepping the squash may be a hassle, but after that it is nice and fast to prepare, too.

Tips: Acorn squash is a pain in the tuchus to peel. The best way I’ve found is to cut them in half and seed them then cut them into slices (3/4 inch in this case). Use a paring knife to slice off the skin then cut as per the recipe.

To remove the seeds from the pear, peel and slice in half, then use a measuring teaspoon to scoop them right out.

2 tablespoons peanut oil
1 large yellow onion, cut into short 1/4 inch thin slices
1 red pepper, cut into short 1/4 inch thin slices
2 teaspoons minced ginger
2 cloves garlic minced
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon Chinese five spice
2 acorns squashes, seeded, peeled and cut into 3/4 inch chunks
2 firm bartlett pears, peeled, seeds removed and sliced into thin (not paper thin) slices (roughly one inch long)
4 cups vegetable broth
15 oz can aduki beans, drained and rinsed (about a cup and a half)
About 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice

For the mushrooms
4 oz fresh shiitakes, sliced in half (about a cup and a half)
2 teaspoons peanut oil
½ teaspoon toasted sesame oil
1 tablespoon soy sauce

Preheat a large stock pot over medium heat. Add the oil and sauté the onions and peppers for about 10 minutes, or until onions just begin to brown.

Add the ginger and garlic and sauté a minute more. Add the salt, Chinese five spice, acorn squash and pear and cook for another minute, stirring often. Add the vegetable broth. Cover and bring to a boil. Once boiling, lower the heat just a bit to simmer briskly for about 20 more minutes, or until the squash is tender.

Puree half the soup using either an immersion blender or by transferring half the soup to a food processor or blender and then back into the rest of the soup (don’t forget to let the soup cool a bit so that the steam does not compress in the processor and kill you).

Add the aduki beans and lime. Cover and simmer on low, just until the beans are heated through. Meanwhile prepare the mushrooms.

Preheat a heavy bottomed skillet over medium high heat. Add the oils and sauté the mushrooms for about 7 minutes, until they are soft. Add the soy sauce and stir constantly until the soy sauce is absorbed (about 1 minute).

Ladle soup into bowls and top with sautéed mushrooms.

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