The Lighter Side of Minnesota

For this week’s stateside adventure, we’re revisiting Minnesota. Well, sort of anyway. We bought this squash on a recent trip to Minnesota at a local farm, but it’s really Japanese in origin. That said, we’re calling it our state night recipe this week. 

The farmer that we purchased the squash from described it as having a nutty and sweet flavor which instantly made me think that this would be perfect in a soup. You see I’ve been somewhat obsessed with soups after making Geni’s Sweet Potato Soup and I thought this squash might be a fun way to mix things up. Not to mention, after our major feasting last week, we’re looking to eat a bit more healthy – and so we bring you Uchiki Kuri Soup.

We started by slicing the squash in half. We picked up an interesting tip over at Cook’s Illustrated on exactly how to do this. Basically, prop the base of the squash in the drain of your sink (make sure your sink is clean first) to hold it steady. Then place a clever or other sharp knife over the top of the squash where you want to make the cut. Take a meat mallet and gently tap the knife into the squash, cutting it all the way through, and there you have a nice clean split.

Miss A took care of scooping out the seeds and “guts” for us. She likes this job – it’s a lot like carving a pumpkin.

Then we placed the squash skin-side down in a baking dish, brushed it with a bit of olive oil and seasoned it with sea salt and finally filled the dish with about 1/4″ of water.

We baked the squash for about 30 minutes and then removed it to cool. In the meantime we melted some butter in a stock pot and diced up some shallots and leeks.

We then tossed those along with a bay leaf, fresh rosemary, fresh sage and dried coriander into the stock pot with the butter.

While the leeks and shallots sautéed, we cut the squash away from the skin and chopped it up.

We also peeled and chopped up an apple. We used a McIntosh, but any variety will work.

And we peeled some fresh ginger as well.

We then threw a bit of garlic into the stock pot and let that simmer for about 30 seconds before adding the squash, the apple and the ginger, which we stirred together for about a minute.

Finally we added the vegetable stock and some Sauvignon Blanc to the pot and let the soup simmer for about 20 minutes.

When the apples were tender, we added a bit of honey (ours is infused with rosemary) and removed the bay leaf.

I usually like my soups with a bit of cream, but again we’re eating a little bit healthier around here, so we used ricotta cheese instead. After stirring that into the soup, we then transferred small batches at a time to the blender to puree until it was smooth. If you have an immersion blender (I don’t. Hint, hint Mike.) you could use that directly in the stock pot.

Once the soup was smooth, we seasoned it with salt and pepper, and transferred it to the bowls. We garnished it with some toasted pecans and sautéed pancetta as well as a dollop of mascarpone.

Now clearly I should have waited until the soup cooled before attempting to take a picture featuring our little dollop of mascarpone, but we were hungry and daylight is hard to come by around here at this time of day. So while this isn’t the most delightful of presentations, this soup was darn good.

And it was a nice change-up from the typical squash soups we’ve come to know and love. It’s very sweet with a subtle nutty overtone, so the pancetta and pecans are a nice salty addition to help balance things out. The kids weren’t big fans of the soup, but that’s no surprise. They’re not big fans of soup in general – unless it’s a hearty chili with tons of cheese. So only 2 spoons from them.

Mike and I really enjoyed it. It’s definitely a 3 spooner. I have no doubt it will become a part of our fall and winter soup repertoire. And it’s a heck of a lot healthier than our Minnesota hot dish and Minnesota bars – even if it is not really a Minnesota thing. 😉

Print this recipe: Uchiki Kuri Soup

42 thoughts on “The Lighter Side of Minnesota

  1. Geni - Sweet and Crumby says:

    Thank you so much for the shout out Kristy! Your squash soup looks and sound so perfect for the blustery nights we were having here the last few nights. That honey with the rosemary infused sounds perfect for adding to dishes like this. I think I may have to get me some of that. Have a great weekend!

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  2. Caroline says:

    I would love a bowl of this soup right now! I think it would cure my cold in a heartbeat. Love the addition of mascarpone cheese and pancetta…yum! And the piece of bread on the side of the bowl is always essential. 🙂

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  3. Charles says:

    That’s a cute little squash – you almost feel bad cutting into them because they’re like such little miracles of nature! The soup sounds wonderful – especially the addition of ginger. As someone mentioned – not only warming and tasty but perfect for helping fend off colds and snuffles 😉

    Let’s hope Santa smiles upon you and brings you an immersion blender this year… you’ll wonder how you ever got by without one!

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    • Kristy says:

      You’re telling me! I think immersion blenders are the greatest little things, especially since I’m not a huge fan of my blender. Oh and soups have been great for colds and sniffles. They just make me feel warm and happy. No joke, someone in this house has been sick since the beginning of November. Needless to say, I’m happy it’s December now and hoping that we’re all going to be healthy for a while. I feel like I’ve been living in an infirmary. Yuck!

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  4. ChgoJohn says:

    After deep frying turkeys, a bet splitting squash is the 2nd greatest cause for kitchen accidents. On the other hand, when the result is a soup that looks as good as this one, it is definitely worth risk.

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  5. Just A Smidgen says:

    I was in control until I read Sauvignon Blanc, marscapone, pancetta, pecans.. oh my goodness that is just over the top yummy! My stomach is growling and all I can think is that I wish this was my soup. Your soup pictures are just fine, btw!

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    • Kristy says:

      Thanks! Yep – those flavors usually get me over the top about a dish too. They all just go so well together. It’s like a wonderful flavor party for the mouth. 🙂 Not to mention it smells fantastic!

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  6. Kay aka Babygirl says:

    I am a fan of creams in some of my soups as well, but this squash soup looks really delicious. I can’t get over how wonderful the squash looks in the photos. I think this is a dish best suited for when you’re older.. I know I disliked soup when I was young and now I love it

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  7. Eva Taylor says:

    I Kristy, Sharyn at Kale Chronicles cooks the guts and seeds in water to make her squash soup; I thought it was a clever idea in this world of wastefulness! Your soup looks delicious.

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  8. spicegirlfla says:

    Great tip on cutting the squash. Sometimes I’m afraid I’m going to really hurt myself trying to cut into them!! This soup really sounds fabulous! It has a combination of many different flavors with the wine, honey, ginger, pecans and marscapone! I make at least one soup a week thru the cooler months and I’m printing this to add very soon!

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    • Kristy says:

      The infused honey is great! We found it at a local farm. They had all different flavors. The Rosemary version was Mr. N’s selection. 🙂 And I find one can never be too obvious when it comes to the Christmas list… 😉

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  9. Kelly says:

    Oh my… ginger, apple, squash, toasted pecans…. (mascarpone!!)… there’s a whole lot of deliciousness going on here and I can’t seem to get enough soup these days.

    That’s such a great tip on slicing the squash – it reminds me of when I broke my arm a couple years back (doing back flips off the monkey bars with my kids – oh dear…) anyhow, I had to ask the produce folks to slice my squash for me because I just didn’t have the wrist strength to get through the tough skin. Happy to have a new technique ;). I hear ya on the lack of daylight sister! (love the rosemary infused honey…).

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    • Kristy says:

      Oh we’re getting there Sally. November has been an awful month for our health. First it was Miss A, then me, then Mike, then me again, then Mr. N, then Miss A again and now me again. I swear. We just can’t seem to shake off whatever this is…I’m hoping December is the beginning of a new healthy streak. 🙂 I hope you feel better soon too!!!!!

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