LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — Chef Curtis Stone, host of “Kitchen Inferno” on the Food Network and executive chef and owner of Maude in Beverly Hills, focuses on a different ingredient each month.

December’s ingredient is squash and Chef Stone shared the following recipe.

Butternut Squash Soup with Smoked Parsnip Cream and Jamon Chips
Serves: 4 to 6
Prep Time: 40 minutes
Cook Time: 1 1/2 hours
Make-Ahead: The jamon chips can be made up to 1 day ahead, stored airtight at room temperature. The soup and parsnip cream can be made up to 2 days ahead, covered separately and refrigerated. Reheat the soup and parsnip cream over low heat.

Ingredients

Soup:
1 teaspoon canola oil
2 shallots, finely chopped
Kosher salt and freshly ground white pepper
1 1/4 pounds/600g peeled, seeded butternut squash, cut into 1-inch/3cm pieces
4 cups chicken stock
2 blood oranges, juiced (1/4 cup/60ml)
1 Cara Cara orange, juiced (1/3 cup/70ml)
1 navel orange, juiced (1/4 cup/60ml) and zested (1 tablespoon)

Smoked Parsnip Cream:
7g wood chips, preferably apple wood
1 cup/250ml full fat milk
1 cup/230ml cream
4 tablespoons/40g butter
8 ounces/240g (about 2 medium) peeled parsnips, inner core removed and cut into 1-inch/3cm pieces

Method

To make the soup:
1. Heat a large heavy saucepan over medium heat. Add the oil, then the shallots and a large pinch of salt, and sauté for about 2 minutes, or until the shallots are tender. Stir in the squash and season with white pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes, or until the squash begins to soften.
2. Add the chicken stock and cook for about 40 minutes, or until the squash is tender and the stock has reduced by one-fourth. Remove the saucepan from the heat and stir in the orange juices and zest. Working in batches, puree the squash mixture in a blender on high speed until smooth. Strain the soup through a fine sieve. Makes about 1 quart.

Meanwhile, to make the smoked parsnip cream:
3. Place the wood chips in the bottom of a medium heavy saucepan. Using a kitchen torch, set fire to the wood chips and allow them to burn for about 1 minute, or until they have turned black all over. Immediately pour in 1/4 cup of water to extinguish the flames. Add the milk and cream and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Cover and simmer for about 20 minutes, or until the cream mixture is infused with a smoky flavor. Strain the mixture, discarding the wood chips. Set the infused cream mixture aside.

4. Rinse out the saucepan and pat dry. Return the saucepan to medium-high heat and add the butter. Cook the butter, stirring often, for about 3 minutes, or until it has browned, but not burned. Add the parsnips to the browned butter and cook for about 1 minute. Add the infused cream mixture and bring to a simmer. Cook for about 25 minutes, or until the parsnips are very tender.

5. Transfer the mixture to a blender and blend on high for about 2 minutes, or until the mixture is very smooth. Season with salt. Transfer the hot parsnip cream to a whip cream dispenser, and charge once. Keep the dispenser warm in a hot water bath until ready to serve.

To serve:
6. Divide the soup among four bowls. Pipe the parsnip cream over the soup. Place 2 or 3 jamon chips on each serving.

Jamon Chips

4 paper-thin slices jamon Serrano

1. Position the rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 425°F/220°C.

2. Place the sliced jamon on a heavy baking sheet lined with parchment paper and place in the oven. Cook, turning the jamon slices over halfway through cooking, for about 5 minutes, or until they are very crisp and brittle.

3. Immediately transfer the jamon chips to kitchen towel to absorb any excess oil. When cooled, break into 1½-inch/4cm pieces. Store the chip in an airtight container at room temperature until ready to serve.

Parsnip Chips

1/4 cup/5g caster sugar
1 navel orange, juiced, strained (1/3 cup/80ml)
1 tablespoon/15g fine sea salt
1 small parsnip, peeled and very thinly sliced lengthwise on a mandolin

1. In a small heavy saucepan, combine the sugar, juice, and salt with 2 cups of water and bring to a boil over high heat.
2. In a medium bowl, combine the sliced parsnip. Carefully pour the boiling water mixture over the parsnips, fully submerging the parsnips. Set aside at room temperature for about 1 hour, or until cool.
3. Lay the parsnip slices in a single layer over a dehydrator sheet. Cover with an empty dehydrator sheet to act as a weight. Dehydrate overnight. Alternatively, place the parsnip strips on a baking tray lined with baking paper. Place the tray in the center rack of a oven that has been preheated to 212°F/100°C. Bake for about 80 minutes, or until the parsnip strips are crisp and dry but do not take on any color.

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