This fennel-Delicata squash soup is adapted from one made with Kabocha in Sunday Suppers at Lucques (recipe copied here.) It’s my favorite winter squash soup, with roasted fennel bulbs and toasted fennel seeds, sherry and onions, and sweet-spicy pepitas.
Also on the scene: cardoons. We don’t see enough of cardoons, kin to artichokes but grown for their stalks, which look like celery. Back in Arkansas, they were consolation for our puny artichoke crop. Here in California, where thistles thrive, we take our artichokes for granted. But each fall a few raggedy bunches of cardoons make it to the market, and I scoop them up for a creamy gratin or a cold vinaigrette.
I’ve been making this simple soup since Arkansas too, where I grew and tasted Japanese turnips for the first time. Hakurei, the variety I know best, are creamy white, crisp, and sweet. You can eat them like apples, no peeling needed.
Caramel and mixed nut tartlets
Makes 6-4″ tartlets
6 fully baked 4″ sweet tart shells (recipe here)
2 1/2 cups mixed whole nuts
580 g (2 1/2 cups) heavy cream
2 T unsalted butter
1 tsp salt
750 g (3 3/4 cup) sugar
Preheat the oven to 375.
Toast the nuts on a baking sheet until they’re golden brown, about 8-10 minutes.
Put the cream, butter, and salt in a saucepan and heat until the butter is melted.
Put the sugar in another saucepan and stir in 1 and 1/2 cup water. Cook the mixture over medium heat until golden brown (don’t stir, just swirl the pan occasionally.)
Remove the saucepan with the caramel from the heat and whisk in the warm cream mixture until smooth.
Stir the nuts in the caramel and ladle the mixture into each tartlet.
Refrigerate for an hour or two until the caramel is soft and chewy, like a candy bar.