This is a beautiful creamy orange winter squash soup, with warm undertones of coriander, fennel, and red pepper flakes. While this soup is good served the day it is made, it really shines if prepared the day before serving. It will keep well in the refrigerator for 5-6 days, and also freezes wonderfully, should you like to save some for a later time.
1teaspoonfennel seeds(if you don't have seeds, substitute 1.5 teaspoons ground fennel)
1teaspooncoriander seeds(if you don't have seeds, substitute 1.5 teaspoons ground coriander)
cilantro oil(made by blending together cilantro leaves and stems with olive oil)
Toasts the seeds. First, place the fennel seeds in a small, dry skillet and toast over medium-low heat until fragrant, about 3-4 minutes. Crush the seeds in a mortar and pestle or in an electric spice grinder. Set aside. Then, repeat the process with the coriander seeds.
Warm the olive oil in a medium-large pot set over medium-low heat. Add the onions and fennel, and sauté for 7-10 minutes with a pinch of salt, until they begin to soften and turn translucent. Add the garlic, ground seeds, and a pinch of red pepper flakes if you would like your soup to have a little heat. Sauté for 2-3 minutes, then add the squash, and give it all a good stir.
Add the water (it should just cover the ingredients- if not, add enough so that it does). Turn up the heat, bring to a boil, add the salt, and turn down to a simmer. Cook for 20-30 minutes, until the squash is tender.
Puree the soup in batches in a blender, until silky smooth, adding water as needed to create a smooth, pourable consistency. Once all the soup is blended, add salt to taste. Serve as is, or with one of the suggested accompaniments.
This soup is delicious served with any or all of the toppings pictured here: fresh cilantro, toasted pumpkin seeds, plain yogurt, or cilantro oil (made by blending together cilantro leaves and stems with olive oil, to a drizzle-able thickness).