This Cream of Winter Squash Soup with Spicy Candied Pecans is rich, comforting and a perfect holiday appetizer.
I an obsessed with soup right now. Can you blame me? This is the best time of year to enjoy soup and the produce could not be more perfect. Just last week I shared a recipe with you for butternut lobster bisque.
For this recipe I decided to combine all of the squash in my kitchen into one velvety cream of winter squash soup.
I served this at a potluck recently and it was a hit. Unlike many of the other soup recipes on my blog this is a very heavy cream soup. A little goes a long way and I recommend serving small portions.
At the party I kept the soup warm in my slow cooker and had guests to ladle it into mugs and top with a small sprinkle of pecans. The nuts add a nice textural element and help balance the heaviness of the soup.
I can’t take credit for the pecans. Instead of reinventing the wheel I used my favorite sweet and spicy candied pecan recipe, courtesy of Elizabeth LaBau. Elizabeth writes for About Candy and SugarHero. This is the best recipe for candied nuts I’ve ever tried and I was delighted when Elizabeth gave me permission to include the recipe here. Why mess with success?
This soup is very customizable. I recommend keeping the proportions the same but you can simplify the recipe by using only one or two type of squash instead of all three. I suggest using all three because they taste amazing together.
Cream of Winter Squash Soup with Spicy Candied Pecans
Winter squash soup:
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1 1/2 cups yellow onion, diced (approximately 1 medium)
- 2 ribs celery, diced
- 3 cups butternut squash, peeled, deseeded and diced (approximately 1/2 medium)
- 3 cups acorn squash, peeled, deseeded and diced (approximately 1 small)
- 1 1/2 cups sweet potato, peeled and diced (approximately 1 medium)
- 1/4 cup brandy
- 2 sprigs fresh thyme
- 2 cups chicken stock, preferably homemade
- 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
- 1 teaspoon salt or to taste
- fresh ground black pepper to taste
Spicy candied pecans:
- 2 cups pecan pieces or halves
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 3 tablespoons brown sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 3/4 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
- 1 1/2 tablespoons real maple syrup
- 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
Prepare the soup:
- Heat the olive oil in a dutch oven or large heavy-bottom saucepan over low heat. Add the onions and celery with a pinch of salt. Allow the vegetables to sweat for several minutes, stirring periodically, until softened. Add the squash and cook for several more minutes, stirring frequently.
- Turn the heat up to medium and allow a brown glaze to slowly build on the bottom of the pan by stirring less often. Keep an eye on it to make sure it doesn't burn. Use a spatula to scrape up and incorporate the brown bits a few times. After several minutes, add the brandy to deglaze the pan and loosen the rest of the brown bits. Allow to alcohol to reduce down to almost nothing, stirring the vegetables frequently, and then add the thyme leaves and chicken stock.
- Bring the liquid to a boil and then cover the pot and reduce the heat to low. Allow the soup to simmer for 1 hour.
- Carefully transfer the soup to a blender and puree until very smooth. Wipe down the dutch oven and return the soup to the pot. Stir in the cream, salt and pepper.
- Serve topped with spicy candied pecans.
Prepare the candied pecans:
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Prepare a baking sheet by lining it with aluminum foil and spraying the foil with nonstick cooking spray.
- Spread the pecans on the baking sheet and toast them in the oven until dark and fragrant, about 10 minutes. Stir every 3 or 4 minutes.
- While the pecans are toasting, prepare the coating mixture. Microwave the butter in a large microwave-safe bowl until melted. Stir in the brown sugar, maple syrup, cinnamon, salt, and cayenne.
- Once the pecans are fragrant, remove them from the oven and pour the hot nuts into the coating mixture. (Be careful as it might splutter and hiss.) Stir until the nuts are evenly coated, and pour them back onto the foil-lined baking sheet and spread them in an even layer.
- Bake for another 10 minutes, stirring after every 3-4 minutes. After 10 minutes, remove the nuts from the oven and allow them to cool and crisp up on the baking sheet.
- Once cool, break the nuts apart or chop them coarsely. Store Sweet and Spicy Candied Pecans in an airtight container at room temperature for up to a week.
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