Potimarron, also known as a Red Kuri squash or Red Kuri kabocha, looks like a pumpkin but has a nuttier flavor profile that tastes like a cross between pumpkin (potiron) and the marron, or, chestnut. I’d never even heard of a potimarron until I saw it in one of the French cooking magazines I love, and had to search the internet to find out if we even carried it in Northern California! Luckily, Berkeley Bowl stocks them, so I bought one nice sized one and set about to find the perfect recipe.
After endless searching, I liked three or four different versions – some involving potatoes or a traditional mirepoix mix, some involving cooking the squash in milk, or roasting whole and scooping out the flesh. I came up with this simple version and ran it by Jules, who proceeded to eat a giant helping with a big smile on his face. All of the measurements are approximate, as I tend to keep adding stuff as I go along, but it’s a general guideline that worked the several times I have made this soup. I like the idea of keeping the ingredients list to a minimum, to make sure the taste of the potimarron shines through.
Soupe de Potimarron
1 medium to large sized Red Kuri squash/potimarron, peeled and cubed
neutral flavored oil, I like sunflower or safflower oil
1 T butter
1 cup milk
1-2 cups chicken or vegetable broth
2-3 shallots, chopped
1 clove garlic, chopped
1 sprig of thyme
1 bay leaf
chives or flat-leaf parsley, chopped finely
whole cooked chestnuts, chopped finely
Prepare the squash. Toss the cubed squash in a couple of tablespoons of oil, spread onto a baking sheet. Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 35-40 min. Test with a fork to see if they are tender, and set aside.
Heat some oil in a soup pot (I use a 5 qt. dutch oven) over medium-high heat. Add shallots and garlic and soften – maybe 5-10 minutes – and make sure they do not burn, and add a sprig of thyme and bay leaf for flavor. Add 1 cup of the chicken broth to the pot and bring to a low simmer, then add the cooked squash. Add more of the chicken broth and make sure the squash is just barely covered. Season generously with salt and pepper.
After about 15 minutes, remove the pot from the heat and fish out the bay leaf and thyme. Using an immersion blender, puree the squash mixture until smooth. Then add the milk slowly to thin it out to your desired consistency. Serve with a dollop of crème fraîche or sour cream and a sprinkling of either parsley or chives, if you like.