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Eight Treasure Squash Soup
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Eight Treasures Squash Soup
From Martin Yan's Asian Favorites (Canada, UK)

Kabocha? You Betcha! More than falling leaves and a biting wind, what signals summer's last gasp to me is the changing inventory at my local farmers' market. Once the produce tables start filling up with pumpkins, I get ready to pull out my winter coat and my chef's knife. And I'm not talking about just jack-o'-lantern pumpkins, either. Take kabocha, for instance. This lumpy, turban-shaped gourd has a thin, waxy green skin splotched with yellow and orange. Beauty, of course, is in the eye of the beholder — and on the palate of the taster, as you'll find out the minute you experience kabocha's mildly sweet, tender orange flesh. It's a favorite in Japan, where cooks prepare it with a little brown sugar or dunk chunks in tempura batter and deep-fry. Because of its round shape and ample size, I think a hollowed-out kabocha squash makes a great soup tureen.

Ingredients:

1 whole kabocha squash, 2 to 3 pounds
1/4 pound medium raw shrimp, shelled, deveined, and butterflied
1/4 pound boneless, skinless chicken, diced
1/4 pound Virginia ham, diced
3 fresh shiitake mushrooms, stems discarded, caps diced
1 small carrot, diced
1/4 cup frozen peas, thawed
3 to 4 cups chicken stock
3 tablespoons Chinese rice wine or dry sherry
1 green onion, thinly sliced, for garnish

Instructions:

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Lower squash into water so that it is completely covered and cook for 10 minutes; drain. Let stand until cool enough to handle. Cut top off squash and reserve as lid; scoop out and discard seeds.

Place shrimp, chicken, ham, mushrooms, carrot, and peas in squash. Place filled squash in a large pot.

Combine stock and rice wine in a bowl; pour into filled squash so liquid comes to within 1 inch of the top. Pour remaining liquid into pot around squash. Place reserved squash lid over filled squash.

Cover pot and bring to a boil over high heat. Decrease heat and simmer until flesh of squash is tender when pierced, 30 to 35 minutes.

Ladle soup into four bowls. With a spoon, scoop flesh from squash and divide among soup bowls. Garnish with green onion.

Yield: Serves 4

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