Monday, January 16, 2012

Laziness, Silliness and Acorn Squash Soup

Ah, the long weekend. Is there anything better? Long weekends are for laziness, no commitments, and no agenda. They also happen to be a great time for silliness.

Let me let you in on a little secret: Andy and I go to great lengths to make ourselves comfortable, even if it means being a bit silly in the process. We rearrange furniture from room to room, we pile couch cushions on the floor in front of the fireplace, we pitch an actual tent in the living room, we put air mattresses on the patio. Our latest creation in comfort is what we call “The Pump-It-Up Room” and it is absolutely fantastic. (For those of you without children or the mindset or a child, Pump It Up is a place for children’s parties that is essentially an entire building of bounce house.)

Here’s the scenario: we have an L-shaped sectional couch in the living room. The space between the couch and the wall that the television hangs on just happens to be a perfect fit for our queen-sized air mattress. It also happens to be the same height. So, you see, the air mattress was practically begging to be wedged into that space. The result is an enormous expanse of cushiony comfort that gets covered in pillows and blankets. Now you can basically lie (or sleep if the mood strikes) ANYWHERE in the living room. Does this not sound like one of the best ideas ever???

We so look forward to The Pump-It-Up Room that we even have an abbreviation for it: The PIUR. Sure, it’s silly. And maybe we’re silly too. But I love it for what it stands for. It means the weekend, laziness, fun, comfort, and best of all, togetherness. It’s hard not to be happy when you’re in The PIUR…it’s just too good.

Now, none of this has anything to do with acorn squash soup expect that I made it this weekend. And it was really good, kind of like The PIUR.

Maple-Roasted Acorn Squash and Fennel Soup

For roasting:
1 large acorn squash, about 2 - 2 1/2 pounds
1 large fennel bulb*
1 head garlic
maple syrup*
olive oil

For soup:
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 tablespoons chopped shallot
1/4 cup dry white wine
2 1/2 cups chicken stock
1 teaspoon maple syrup
salt and pepper, to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Chop the top third off of the head of garlic. Lay two large pieces of foil on top of each other. Place the bottom part of garlic in the middle of foil. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Wrap foil up around garlic and seal at top and sides.

Cut acorn squash in half and scoop out seeds. Place both halves, skin side down, in a glass baking dish. Drizzle flesh liberally with maple syrup and olive oil, then sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Cut fennel bulb in half. Cut out core and remove any tough outer pieces. Slice fennel into strips. Place in another glass baking dish and drizzle liberally with maple syrup and olive oil, then sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Put garlic, squash and fennel on middle rack of oven. Roast until tender. Times will vary depending on size, about 40 minutes for fennel, about 50 minutes for garlic, about 75 minutes for squash. Remove and let cool.

When cool enough to handle, squeeze roasted garlic cloves out of skins, scoop acorn squash out of skin (about 2 cup yield), and chop fennel (about 3/4 cup yield).

In a large pot, heat olive oil and sauté shallot until soft. Add fennel and garlic, season with salt and pepper. Deglaze pot with white wine, scraping the bottom. Stir in acorn squash, then chicken stock and syrup. Using an immersion blender, puree in pot. (Add more chicken stock if thinner consistency is desired.) Check seasonings and add more salt, pepper or syrup to taste. Heat through to serve immediately. 

*Note: If the fennel is very thick, it can be a bit fibrous, so make sure to chop into very small pieces and puree well. 
And don't even think about using any syrup that isn't real, pure maple syrup. Sorry Mrs. Butterworth, but you have no place here.

When I tasted the maple-roasted fennel, I was sold. I don’t consider myself a huge fennel lover, but maple-roasted fennel could convert me. In general, the maple syrup made everything better. The soup has a savory sweetness that I loved. It was creamy with no cream added in. It’s hearty and makes you want to curl up In front of the fire. Or in The PIUR. You know which one I’d choose...


  1. Those are the best weekend... enjoy each other. Our favourie times are when we have nothing to do but cook good food and enjoy life. Your soup is right up my alley.

  2. Mmmm, I love acorn squash with maple, especially in soup form. I've never had fennel with them, but since I adore it, I bet this soup would be perfect for me. Cleveland is all snowed in and this sounds like the perfect meal on a day like this.

  3. Dude that furniture arrangement sounds great for my TV watching time! This soup looks wonderful, love your pictures here.

  4. I think it's great to be silly...Michael and I are silly at least 50% of the time! Love your soup...not sure I've ever eaten an acorn squash before. I should rectify that pronto!

  5. Geez, you sound like Hubby and me before Dudette. We would do the same thing with pillows and blankets. Never had a PIUR though (darn it). Now the tents I make are with a 5 year-old, not my beloved. Ah well. It's all good. The soup looks fantastic....I adore cooked fennel (not raw), so this is right up my alley. And, I agree, for cooking only pure maple syrup is allowed!

  6. Oh my god, my kids would LOVE you! The pump it up room, yep. They would love you. Great soup, too!

  7. Beautiful pictures! The colors remind me of warmer weather and I just want to enjoy it! Love the additional of the fennel- thanks for sharing!

  8. Beautiful post Karen! Just loving the rich colours and the entire concept!! Weekends at ours are also full of laziness, comfort and above all fooooddddd:DDD A friend has been looking for a good squash recipe, will be forwarding her right away:DDD

  9. Oh, I love a lazy weekend...and you do it well!!! Great soup, too...

  10. This is a gorgeous soup--perfect for a lazy weekend or any other weekend. Have you tried this with frozen, creamed acorn squash? I think I'll give it a try.

  11. Fennel and squash --- one of my favorite combos! Looks great.

  12. I love loooong and lazy weekend... with no agenda and just with your pj's you hold a warm bowl of soup... and this soup will deinitely be like a sun shining through my grey day here in STL.
    enjoy the rest of the day Karen!

  13. This soup sounds fabulous! Congrat on your top 9!

  14. A “Pump-It-Up Room”, how cool is that! Gorgeous soup and love that color!

  15. This acorn squash looks super creamy and so well photographed. So pretty!!

  16. This recipe looks great! Being from Canada we don't have a long weekend until mid-February but I'll be making this sooner than that! What seeds did you use on top?

    1. The seeds on top are just the seeds from the acorn squash, tossed in a little olive oil and spices, and roasted at 350 for about 10 minutes.

  17. Oh wow, I love the idea of putting fennel and acorn squash together. Your soup sounds fantastic! BTW, I love the idea of putting the mattress in your living room, more places to get comfy and cozy sound perfect to me:-) Hugs, Terra

  18. Wow, love the color of this soup! Sounds divine!

  19. I am making this right now. It sounds and smells so delicious. Will let you know how it turns out!

  20. Is absolutely delicious! Thank you!

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