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Butternut Squash Soup with Candied Walnuts & Cardamom Cream

Having made his mark with dynamic Southwestern cuisine at his Red Drum restaurant, Berryhill feels free to present a menu at Next Door that is textural, colorful, and sensual. As evidence, take this soup—light as silk, smooth as satin, and, with its swirl of cardamom cream, as sexy as it should be for a Valentine’s Day supper. Once again, his menu planning is thoughtful: the soup can be made up to two days in advance; the candied walnuts up to a week. The wine pairing could go two ways. The Saumur Brut Rosé, if not already consumed, continues nicely with this course. Otherwise, one might progress to the Caymus Conundrum 2008 White Blend, Central Coast California, whose floral complexity and honeysuckle on the finish make it delightful with the side of crab risotto as well. An extra plus—the Conundrum comes in a half bottle.
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  • 1 small (about 11/4 lbs.) butternut
  • squash, cut in half and seeded
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Dash nutmeg
  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 Tbs. unsalted butter, divided
  • 1/4 cup julienned yellow onion
  • 1/2 cinnamon stick
  • 1 clove
  • 1/4 tsp. black peppercorns
  • 1/4 star anise
  • 1/4 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • Cardamom cream (find recipe at
  • Candied walnuts (find recipe at
  • Pumpkin seed oil


For the Candied Walnuts:

  • 1/2 cup walnut halves
  • 3 Tbs. powdered sugar
  • 2 cups peanut oil
  • Sea salt, to taste

For the Cardamom Cream:

  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1 tsp. ground cardamom
  • 1 tsp. powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 350ºF.

Season squash with salt, pepper, and a dash of nutmeg. Drizzle squash with olive oil and place 1/2 tablespoon butter in cavity. Place squash in a baking pan filled with about 1/4 inch water. Cover pan tightly with foil and roast squash for 40 to 50 minutes, until tender when pierced with a knife.  

When squash is cool enough to handle, scoop out the flesh and place in a food processor. Put the remaining butter in a saucepan over medium-high heat and cook until the butter is slightly browned, one to two minutes. Add the onions, cinnamon, clove, peppercorns, and star anise. Cook, stirring occasionally, for six to seven minutes, until the onions are tender. Add the brown sugar, chicken stock, and cream and simmer for 20 minutes. Purée in a blender and strain through a chinoise. Season with salt and pepper.

Divide soup between two bowls. Spoon a dollop of cardamom cream on each and garnish each with two candied walnuts. Finish with drops of pumpkin seed oil.


For the Candied Walnuts:

Bring a saucepan of salted water to a boil and drop in the walnuts. Boil them until tender, about five minutes. Remove heat and drain. Place powdered sugar in a small mixing bowl. Add nuts and toss to coat. Leave nuts in the powdered sugar for 20 minutes. Heat the peanut oil in a small heavy-bottomed saucepan to 365°F. Fry the walnuts in two batches. Constantly stir them in the oil until the walnuts are a light golden brown, about two minutes. (They will continue to brown when removed from the oil, so be careful to not over-brown in the oil.) Remove from oil and toss them with sea salt to taste. This recipe makes extra walnuts, which will keep up to one week in a tightly closed container.

For the Cardamom Cream:

Place all of the ingredients in a small mixing bowl and whisk until soft peaks are formed.