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Try A New Thanksgiving Side Dish

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Heide Lang, owner of the Fig Cooking School, visited the Fox CT kitchen to prepare roasted butternut squash pumpkin soup with crispy shallots for a different type of Thanksgiving side dish. The recipe is below.

Roasted butternut squash pumpkin soup with crispy shallots
This soup is not only a wonderful first course for Thanksgiving, but also a delicious cozy soup perfect for any autumn or winter gathering. Serves eight.

The soup
•    4 tablespoons canola oil
•    2 cups leeks, chopped
•    1/3 cup shallots, chopped
•    2 1/2 cups fresh butternut squash cut in 1-inch cubes
•    1 can pure organic pumpkin puree (no sugar added)
•    1 teaspoon kosher salt
•    ½ teaspoon ground pepper
•    1 tablespoon cane sugar
•    3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
•    2 teaspoons fresh ginger finely minced
•    ¾ teaspoon ground cardamom
•    1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
•    1 Bartlett pear, peeled and chopped into 1-inch cubes
•    5-6 cups vegetable or chicken broth
•    1/3 cup sour cream or crème fraiche
•    4-5 tablespoons crispy shallots (see recipe below)
•    1/3 pound pancetta, sliced thin (optional)


  1. Heat canola oil in a 6- to 8-quart pot. Sautee shallots and leeks over medium heat until they are soft and glassy, but not yet brown, about 5 minutes.
  2. Add the butternut squash and sauté for 5 minutes.
  3. Add the pumpkin puree and stir well.
  4. Add salt, pepper, sugar, cinnamon, ginger, cardamom and cayenne pepper. Stir and cook over medium heat for one minute.
  5. Add the pear and broth and bring to a boil. Once the mixture is hot, turn down the heat to a steady simmer on a low-medium flame. Cook for 10 to 15 minutes, or until the pears and squash are soft.
  6. Puree in a food processor, or with an immersion blender (you may also use a blender, but be sure to let the soup cool to lukewarm first).
  7. Add sour cream and mix well.
  8. Fry pancetta (optional) in a small frying pan over medium-high heat, until crisp, and pat between two towels to absorb grease.
  9. Serve with crispy shallots and/or crumbled pancetta on top.


The crispy shallots

•    3/4 cup olive or canola oil
•    3 tablespoons unsalted butter
•    2 ½ cups sliced shallots (6 to 12 shallots, depending on size)


  1. Heat oil and butter in a 12-inch saucepan over medium heat until it starts to bubble.
  2. Reduce the heat to low and add the shallots.
  3. Cook until golden brown, about 30 minutes (add more oil if the shallots start to burn) stirring frequently.
  4. Remove the shallots with a slotted spoon and place on paper towels. Pat down to remove excess oil. Once the excess oil is absorbed, place the shallots in an airtight container and use to garnish soups, vegetables, potatoes and sandwiches.

And for an appetizer, here is Lang’s recipe for fig, goat cheese and caramelized shallot squares

•    1 ready-made defrosted puff pastry sheet
•    3 tablespoons unsalted butter
•    2 tablespoons canola or olive oil
•    2 ½ cups of thinly sliced shallots (4 large shallots, or 6 small ones)
•    ½ teaspoon salt
•    12-14 whole dried figs (3 ounces)
•    3 teaspoons honey
•    5-6 ounces crumbled goat cheese
•    ¼ cup coarsely ground walnuts (optional)


  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Roll out the puff pastry to a 10 X 13 rectangle. Poke a few holes in pastry with a fork (so it doesn’t puff up while baking.)
  3. Pre-bake the puff pastry until it is just slightly browned, about 5 to 7 minutes.
  4. In the meantime, melt the butter with oil in a large skillet over medium heat, and add the shallots.
  5. Cook the shallots on medium heat until they are soft and beginning to brown, about 10 minutes. Stir frequently, especially if you are not using a non-stick pan.
  6. Add the salt, and season to taste with pepper. Set aside.
  7. Place dried figs in hot water for 5 minutes. Drain and dry figs.
  8. Slice figs 1/8 inch thick, and then coarsely chop them (you should have ½ cup of sliced figs). Mix with honey and set aside,
  9. Spread the shallot mixture evenly over the pre-baked pastry.
  10. Sprinkle the goat cheese, followed by the figs and the walnuts.
  11. Bake until the crust is golden and the cheese starts to bubble, about 15 to 20 minutes.
  12. Let cool and cut into squares. Serve warm or at room temperature.


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