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Kabocha squash soup with pomegranate seeds and spicy candied pecans

Time 40 minutes
Yields Serves 6 to 8
Kabocha squash soup with pomegranate seeds and spicy candied pecans
(Michael Robinson Chavez / Los Angeles Times)
1

Heat a 4-quart sauce pan or small pot over low heat. Add the butter and onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are translucent, 3 to 5 minutes.

2

Stir in the squash, broth and cream, and season with 1 1/2 teaspoons salt and one-fourth teaspoon pepper. Bring to a boil over high heat, stirring frequently. Reduce the heat to maintain a gentle simmer and cook, loosely covered, until the squash is tender, about 20 minutes.

3

Puree the soup in a blender, or using an immersion blender, and pass through a strainer to remove any remaining solids. You should have about 9 cups soup. Set aside in a warm place until ready to serve.

4

While the soup is cooking, candy the pecans. Place the sugar and water in a small saucepan, stirring to moisten all of the sugar. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium heat and cook, evaporating the water and cooking the sugar, until a thermometer inserted in the liquid reads 265 degrees (hard ball stage for sugar), 10 to 12 minutes. Immediately remove from heat.

5

Add the pecans and pepper powder to the sugar and stir with a wooden spoon until cool. The sugar will crystallize (or seize) as it cools, forming a cloudy hard coating around the nuts; this is fine.

6

When the nuts have cooled, heat a clean, medium pan over moderate heat. Stir in the crystallized nuts and stir with a wooden spoon until the sugar coating on each nut caramelizes. Remove from heat and allow the caramelized nuts to cool on a sheet of parchment paper.

7

Ladle the soup into bowls and serve garnished with a small handful of spiced candied pecans and a sprinkling of pomegranate seeds.

Adapted from Craig Strong, chef de cuisine, the Langham, Huntington Hotel & Spa. This recipe requires the use of a candy thermometer (or a thermometer reaching 265 degrees).

Amy Scattergood is a staff writer for the Food section of the Los Angeles Times.
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