Dinner Healthy Holiday Recipes Savory

Inside the Baker’s Kitchen + Creamy Spiced Squash Soup with Parmesan Thyme Popovers

creamy spiced squash soup

I‘ve been thinking a lot about comforts.

As I’m preparing to host my first Thanksgiving in New Orleans, I’m thinking a lot about exactly how to make my guests feel comfortable.  I’m thinking beyond moist stuffing and sweet cranberry sauce, because comfortable house guests require much more than one fancy meal on a Thursday.

I’m gathering baskets filled with filtered water, fancy soaps, good hand cream, extra toothbrushes just in case, extra blankets for the bed, a lavender spray for the bathroom, and a refrigerator full of snacks and comforts.

It’s essential and ultra luxurious… and since I don’t often host a house full of family (loud, hungry, crazy crazy family), it would be fair to say that maybe I’m going a bit overboard.

I’ve made a giant batch of this creamy squash soup and added a bit of ground clove and freshly grated nutmeg to highlight the sweet squash.  Salty pancetta breadcrumbs add a bit of crunch, and the whole deal is waiting in the refrigerator for a Thanksgiving week lunch.

I expect to feel proud and accomplished, until I run out of popovers and someone asks for more.

inside the baker's kitchen

We’re back in the kitchen with KitchenAid and it’s time to work these shelves.  It feels like I’m going to have every pan and every appliance on their job this week.  For this creamy soup and crispy popovers, I’m using a few new favorites:  the 7-speed Hand Mixer which is a savior for quick baking jobs, and the Pro Line® Series Cordless Hand Blender for the smoothest, creamiest blended soups.

If you missed our first Inside the Baker’s Kitchen, be sure the check out these sweet and savory biscuits!

creamy spiced squash soup

There are produce shelves full of all sorts of thick-skinned squash these days.  Butternut squash is mild and sweet.  Spaghetti squash is stringy and moist.  Red Kuri, the squash we’re using for this soup is nutty and soft.  It’s orange color is bright and intriguing.

Grab a Red Kuri!  We’ll add some spices.  It’s a perfect match!

creamy spiced squash soup

Peeling a squash takes some doing.  The thick-skin protects a tender flesh.

Peel and de-seed, leaving only the squash flesh.

creamy spiced squash soup

The foundation of our soup is critical:  sautéed onions, garlic, carrots, celery, and thyme.

Earthy, sweet, and balancing flavors.

creamy spiced squash soup

The uncooked squash is added to soup foundation.

I also like to add my spices at this point to help bloom their oils, releasing all of their flavors.

Believe it or not, we’re adding ground cloves and freshly grated nutmeg to this creamy soup.  I know… these sound like flavors that belong in banana bread, but the fragrant spices add an undeniable warmth and Autumn spirit to the soup.

creamy spiced squash soup

I used a turkey stock for this soup.  It has more of a creamy and luxurious quality than chicken or vegetable stock.  It’s warmth matches the cloves and nutmeg.

After some quality simmer-time, the carrots , celery, and squash are warmed into softness and submission.

creamy spiced squash soup 6

This is where things start to get fun!  This KitchenAid 5-Speed Cordless Hand Blender is like a choose-you-own-adventure kitchen utility set!  I love the interchangeable blade heads and use the four-sided blade to blend this soup!

creamy spiced squash soup

No messy transferring soup to and from a blender.  Just leave it in the pot and let a hand blender whirl away!

I like my soup as smooth as possible without straining so I take my time to blend and blend.

creamy spiced squash soup

Once blended, the flavors of the soup will just start to marry.

Now is a great time to taste and check the seasoning.  More salt?  More pepper?  More cloves and nutmeg?

Cream.  Lots of cream!

creamy spiced squash soup

Let’s top our soup with something crispy and salty.  Pancetta is the answer.

As the pancetta bits cook down, they crisp to a golden brown and release an essential amount of delicious fat.

creamy spiced squash soup

Add panko bread crumbs, and fresh herbs to the fat and toss to coat.  The result is a salty, crisp, and fragrant soup topping.  A little bite of salty crunch is perfect in a creamy soup.

creamy spiced squash soup

Popovers!  Super impressive with minimal effort.

Eggs do all heavy lifting in these popovers, and create the most light and fluffy bread bites.

creamy spiced squash soup

Milk and eggs are beaten together well.  It’s important to completely break down the egg into the milk so that the egg magic is evenly distributed throughout the batter.

creamy spiced squash soup

Flour and salt beaten all the way in until no lumps remain.

creamy spiced squash soup

The batter will be thin.  That’s exactly right!

Fresh thyme and salty parmesan, too!

creamy spiced squash soup

I make my popovers in a muffin tin because a muffin tin is much more versatile in my kitchen.

Brushed with butter and filled halfway with popover batter.  Cheese and herb in every tin.

creamy spiced squash soup

The ultimate!

Creamy and spiced squash soup.  Mellow and interesting.  lot’s of slaty, herby crunch to top.  I love the eggy and doughy popovers to match.  All hot and fresh.  Perfect for the season!

This post is in partnership with KitchenAid:  adored and all up in my baker’s kitchen.

Creamy Spiced Squash Soup with Parmesan Thyme Popovers

Serving Size: 12 servings

Ingredients

    For the Soup:
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large yellow onion, peeled and coarsely chopped
  • 5 stalks celery, coarsely chopped
  • 5 medium carrots, coarsely chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
  • 3 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves, plus more to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg, plus more to taste
  • salt and fresh cracked pepper, to taste
  • 3 - 4lbs red kuri squash, peeled, deseeded and cubed (about 6 to 8 cups)
  • 8 cups turkey, chicken, or vegetable broth
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream
  • For the Pancetta Topping:
  • 4 ounces cubed pancetta
  • 1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
  • 2 tablespoons freshly chopped parsley
  • For the Popovers:
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves
  • heaping 1/3 cup coarsely grated parmesan cheese

Instructions

  1. To make the soup, in a large stick pot over medium heat warm the olive oil. Add onions, celery, and carrots to the pot and toss together. Cook for 5 to 7 minutes, or until the onions are just beginning to soften.
  2. Add the garlic, thyme, cloves, nutmeg, and a bit of salt and pepper and sautee for 5 more minutes. Tossing so all of the vegetables are coated in spice and herbs.
  3. Add the squash to the pot along with the broth. Stir to combine.
  4. Reduce heat to low, cover pot, and simmer for about 35 to 45 minutes or until the carrots, celery, and squash have completely softened.
  5. Remove from heat and use an immersion or cordless hand blender to blend the soup until smooth. Be careful, it's hot!
  6. If you don't have a cordless blender, you can also blend this soup in batches in an upright blender. Just be careful not to overfill the blender to start. Cover tightly with a lid and drape the blender with a kitchen towel safely blend.
  7. Add cream to the blended soup and taste. Season with salt and pepper (and more clove and nutmeg) to your desired taste.
  8. This soup is best re-heated the day after it is made. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
  9. To make the pancetta topping, in a medium skillet over medium heat, sauté pancetta bits until crisp and well browned, about 5 minutes. The pancetta bits will produce and release a good amount of fat during cooking. That's great!
  10. Once well browned, use a spoon to remove the pancetta bits from the pan and place them in a small bowl. Leave as much fat as possible in the pan and reduce heat to medium-low.
  11. Add the panko crumbs, thyme and parsley to the pan and stir to coat in fat. Cook until fragrant and browned, about 3 minutes. Remove from the pan and stir into the pancetta. Set aside to top the soup.
  12. To make the popovers, in a medium bowl, whisk together flour and salt. In a separate medium bowl, beat together eggs and milk until very well combined. I used my hand mixer for about 4 minutes to combine the eggs and milk.
  13. Add the dry ingredients to the egg and milk mixture. Beat together until no lumps remain. Beat in the thyme and parmesan. The batter will be thin. That's right!
  14. Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Generously brush butter into the cups of a non-stick muffin tin. Fill each muffin cup halfway full with batter. Place in the oven and bake for 15 minutes. Reduce oven heat to 350 and bake for 10 minutes more.
  15. Popovers will be tall and puffed. Remove from the oven and serve immediately with warm soup.
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