Monday, October 24, 2011

Gingered Acorn Squash Soup + Book Giveaway

The new book from Louis Lambert, Big Ranch, Big City Cookbook: Recipes from Lambert's Texas Kitchens, begins with a discussion of chefs’ culinary styles. For Lambert, what he most loves to cook has everything to do with his upbringing in the West Texas town of Odessa and the kinds of food his family always brought to the table. Lambert graduated from The Culinary Institute of America and then worked in New York, Dallas, and San Francisco. It was in San Francisco at Wolfgang Puck’s Postrio where he had a revelation about cooking. He began to see that many of the dishes he prepared in this urban, refined restaurant were very similar to what he grew up eating on a Texas ranch. He knew he could recreate his favorite foods from home with a few new techniques to dress them up for restaurant dining. And, that’s exactly what he’s done at his restaurants in Austin and Fort Worth. I received a review copy of this new book, and I have great news for two commenters on this post. Two lucky people who comment on this post by Friday, October 28th 2011 at noon CST and who can provide a US mailing address, will be chosen to each receive one copy of the book. Just leave a comment, including your email address so I can contact you, and I’ll randomly pick two winners on Friday.

I have to mention what Robb Walsh wrote in the Forward of this book. His first introduction to Louis Lambert and his cooking was by way of an article in Martha Stewart Living in 1996. The article was about West Texas food and Marfa. I remember that article too, and I remember the recipes. I still have them in my files. The dishes in this new book are just as memorable. This is Texas food with some influences from Mexico here and ideas inherited from Louisiana there, and everything has been given some kind of fresh, new twist. The red grapefruit and avocado salad is reminiscent of Lambert’s grandmother’s salad from years ago, but here, it’s been updated with watercress, pine nuts, and goat cheese. The fried green tomatoes are topped with a crab salad made with a Creole remoulade. There’s a posole recipe, but this version is made with shrimp and green chiles, and wild Texas ducks are used for duck rillettes. Of course, there’s a meat chapter including adobo-grilled t-bone with red chile and cheese enchiladas, bock-braised beef short ribs, and crispy wild boar ribs with fresh plum barbecue sauce. But, it’s not a red meat-heavy kind of book. There’s also a Poultry chapter, a Seafood chapter, Tex-Mex, Vegetables and Sides, Breads, and Desserts. I appreciated how every once in a while a recipe caught me by surprise, and that was the case with the gingered acorn squash soup.

With ginger in the title of the recipe, I knew there would be a nice spice flavor in the soup. Then, I read about the pineapple in it which adds just a hint of fruitiness. The roasted acorn squash, sauteed onions, and homemade stock give the soup a rich savoriness, and then the ginger and pineapple add little punches of different flavors. Sometimes, when making a soup, the garnishes can seem like a step or two too many but not here. The sour cream with honey, buttery brioche croutons, and a sprinkling of an anise-flavored herb like tarragon or Mexican mint marigold were so well-suited to this soup I urge you not to skip them. This was a hearty, fall soup, and in small portions would be a lovely way to start a Thanksgiving feast. In fact, the entire Thanksgiving meal could come from this book by using the Mexican chocolate chile rub on turkey instead of chicken, whipping up a big bowl of the loaded garlic mashed potatoes, baking the ricotta spinach gratin, and for dessert, I’d pick the gingered pear fried pies.

Gingered Acorn Squash Soup
Reprinted with permission from Big Ranch, Big City Cookbook: Recipes from Lambert's Texas Kitchens by Louis Lambert and June Naylor, copyright 2011. Published by Ten Speed Press, a division of Random House, Inc.

Makes 8 servings

2 acorn squash 
(approximately 6 cups cooked squash),
quartered and seeded
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 small white onion, diced small
3 tablespoons finely diced fresh ginger
1/2 cup small-diced fresh or canned pineapple
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon white pepper
4 cups chicken stock
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup sour cream
2 tablespoons honey
Fresh chopped tarragon, for garnish

Preheat your oven to 400°F.

Arrange the cut squash on a baking sheet and brush the cut sides with the melted
butter. Season each piece by sprinkling on the brown sugar and allspice. Bake the
squash until the flesh is tender, about 30 minutes. When the squash has cooled enough to handle, scoop out the flesh and set aside.

Heat a heavy soup pot over medium-high heat and add the olive oil. Add the onion
and ginger to the pot and cook until the onion becomes soft, about 4 minutes. Add the pineapple, salt, and white pepper and cook for another 2 minutes. Stir in the chicken stock, heavy cream, and squash and bring to a simmer. Slowly cook the soup, stirring occasionally, for 20 minutes. Remove the soup from the heat and, using an immersion blender, puree the soup until smooth. You can also blend the soup in batches in a blender or food processor.

To make the garnish, stir together the sour cream and honey in a small bowl. To
serve, ladle the hot soup into warmed bowls and drizzle the top of each with the sour cream mixture. Garnish with freshly chopped tarragon.

(Note: When I made this soup, I made one small change to the ingredients by using only one half cup of cream instead of a full cup.)

You can follow information about Louis Lambert and Big Ranch, Big City on Facebook and TwitterTwo lucky people who comment on this post by Friday, October 28th 2011 at noon CST and who can provide a US mailing address, will be chosen to each receive one copy of the book. Just leave a comment, including your email address so I can contact you, and I’ll randomly pick two winners on Friday.

UPDATE: The winners were #7 and #11. Thank you everyone who entered!


  1. That soup looks and sounds fabulous! Great flavors.



  2. What gorgeous photos! I am salivating! Would love a chance in your drawing.

  3. Wasn't sure about the ginger, but after reading all the ingredients I can't wait for my CSA box to arrive this week.

  4. Sounds tasty, I love the spiciness of ginger! I'm eager to see what the rest of the book holds!

  5. Hi Lisa,
    I am not familiar with this cookbook, but the recipe is on my list! Thank you for posting it!
    (you have my email!)

  6. Wow Lisa, this acorn soup looks delicious, so flavorful...beautifully done!
    Hope you have a great week ahead :-)

  7. Lovely! I love the suggestion to use Mexican mint marigold. Thanks for the giveaway!

  8. I love the idea of traditional Texan food with a gourmet twist. This soup looks downright decadent and the croutons are definitely the icing on the proverbial cake.

  9. You don't need to put me in the running for the book, but I just had to comment. I LOVE this book! Chef Lambert's voice comes through so clearly in the book. There are great technique blocks in addition to the fab recipes. I think my first recipe will be the Shrimp Posole Verde.

  10. Looks like a great book. travisdoran at

  11. I moved from Austin to Phoenix in June and would LOVE to have this cookbook as a piece of "home" in the desert. We have southwestern influences here, but they're not the same as Texas -- I miss it!

  12. I missed Lou's demo at the Texas Book Festival and now I regret it. This soup looks amazing- the ginger and pineapple must really add some complexity to the flavor. Also, I can't wait to try that sour cream and honey combination- sounds terrific!

  13. Sounds like a great book with a unique perspective.

  14. Sounds like a good book, would love to read!

    gemini1077 at gmail dot com

  15. What a fantastic book -thank you for sharing with us. Love the soup you highlighted.

  16. Yum Lisa, this looks amazing. I made a thai sweet potato soup for lunch today :) cold weather can go away now please!

  17. I love acorn squash baked with brown sugar and some butter. The ingredients in this soup are stirring up thoughts of glorious goodness. I've never thought of myself as a ginger lover but I'm discovering I enjoy many recipes with ginger and HEY...I think I must love ginger. This cookbook sounds intriguing.

  18. I, too, would love to enter your contest. On the dismal side of things, though, I have had very poor luck with cooking acorn squash. It seems to take forever and never really get done. I've had better luck with butternut squash.
    I just came here because of your farro/roasted cauliflower recipe, though. I just had a similar salad at a friends house, and it was so GREAT! I'll be trying your version except that I'm not a fan of pine nuts, so I'll probably put in pecans--this is Texas after all :)

  19. It really is interesting recipe. Wow, that pineapple sounds bit unusual.

  20. Really nice soup recipe,i never eat this king of soupe.
    I w'll try it soon.
    Thank for the visit,great website.

    creole cuisine

  21. This looks awesome! I am more of a butternut squash girl myself, but I have some acorns this year that I was wondering what to do with.

  22. Squash soup is already one of my favorite things to eat. And now you're going to add ginger, pineapple, and tarragon, more ingredients that I love? Now _this_ is my kind of cooking.

  23. I just happened across your blog. It looks nice and I am going to follow it for a while. Looks like you may have a fondness for cookbooks. My new book is reviewed at
    And she's giving one away.
    If you care to, check me out at

  24. Don't enter me in the contest because my shelves are already groaning, but just had to comment on what looks like a delicious soup. I love winter squash but am a little afraid of the acorn. Such tough skin! But I'm willing to go in for this!

  25. Interesting squash soup. Printed the recipe and plan to fix it when the weather gets cooler. A cold front is on the way but I plan to to try Shrimp Pozole Verde first. I have two pork chops in Lamberts Citrus Brine from Valley Grilled Poterhouse Pork Chop recipe. Going to fix for dinner tomorrow night. I would like to have his book to try some of the other recipes.

  26. I would love to try this soup. I steer clear of strong ginger flavors due to an unfortunate ginger incident in my past :P but this sounds very good and I am trying to learn to love it again.... the cookbook sounds fantastic!

  27. confession: acorn squash is probably my least favorite of the winter squash. that said, this is a fabulous way to prepare it--the aroma must be amazing!

  28. I am in a mood for soups, as I imagine most people in this hemisphere anyway... I rarely cook acorn squash, afraid of losing fingers while cutting it, but this soup would be worth the risk ;-)

  29. The pork chops were very tasty. Looking forward to trying the Shrimp Pozole Verde tonight.

  30. This says Fall to me! Would love that cookbook, another addict right here!

  31. Kris Cacciapaglia-EnrightOctober 28, 2011 at 9:14 AM

    The soup look delish! I love trying new dishes, thanks for posting.

  32. This recipe looks delish! your pictures are SO pretty Lisa!

  33. I'm definitely making this soup today (w/our first "cold front" going through central TX). My only thought is to use slightly less brown sugar and honey, as I generally love the naturally sweet flavor of the squash itself. Have really enjoyed your site, and I'd love a copy of the cookbook!

  34. Hi Lisa, Your Gingered Acorn Squash Soup recipe has been selected to be featured in a Recipe Guessing Game. Please share the following link with your friends and fans. To play, go here: Congrats again!! :)


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