Velouté de Potimarron* with Flambéed Lobster Tails and a Parmesan Crisp
Serves 8 to 10 for an entrée (small bowl) or 4 to 6 for a main course
Prep Time: 30 to 45 minutes
Cook Time: 1.5 hours
Equipment: parchment paper, baking sheet, large pot, cheese grater, kitchen scissors, food processor or immersion blender, large frying pan, long kitchen matches, spatula
Ingredients for the Velouté
2 medium-sized potimarron (Hokkaido squash) or butternut squash*
Extra-virgin olive oil
Salt (fleur de sel, sea, or kosher)
Fresh ground pepper
4 teaspoons cinnamon
1 medium leek, sliced into thin rounds*
1 onion, peeled and diced
2 celery stalks, diced
2 carrots, peeled and diced
2 garlic cloves, peeled, de-germed, and finely minced
6-7 cups homemade chicken broth or canned chicken or vegetable stock
1 to 2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 tablespoon paprika
1 tablespoon ground turmeric
3 healthy pinches herbes de Provence
Juice of 1 lemon
Sprigs of lavender or rosemary for garnish
Crème fraîche or sour cream (optional**)
Chopped chives (optional**)
Ingredients for the Parmesan Crisp
7 ounces Parmesan cheese, a nice chunk
Ingredients for the Lobster Tails
4 langoustes (spiny/Caribbean lobsters) thawed—approximately 4 oz. each
Juice of 1 to 2 freshly squeezed oranges
2 to 3 tablespoons finely minced ginger
Fresh ground pepper
Extra-virgin olive oil
1 to 2 knobs of butter (about 1 to 2 tablespoons each)
¼ cup Armagnac or cognac
Preheat oven to 400°F.
Using a sharp knife, cut the squash in half. Deseed, then cut the squash into large chunks. Place on a parchment-lined baking sheet, skin side down. Drizzle with olive oil. Lightly salt and pepper. Sprinkle with cinnamon. Bake for 25 minutes.
While the squash is cooking, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add leeks, onion, celery, carrot, and garlic, cooking until vegetables are soft, about ten minutes. Add the broth, cumin, paprika, turmeric, and herbes de Provence. Bring to a boil, cover, and reduce heat to simmer.
When the squash is ready, set aside and let cool.
It’s time to make the Parmesan crisps while the oven is hot. Hand grate the Parmesan using a grater. Each crisp requires 1½ to 2 tablespoons of cheese, totaling 8-10 rounds. Bake on a parchment-lined baking sheet for around 7 minutes, until golden. Remove from the oven and set aside.
Using kitchen scissors, cut off the lobster shells. Gingerly remove the meat of the lobster from the shell, aiming to remove it in one piece. Place the tails in a bowl and add the juice of the oranges and the ginger. Mix well, cover in plastic wrap, and set the bowl in the refrigerator until ready to cook.
When the squash is cool enough to handle, peel off the skin and chop the squash into 1-inch to 2-inch cubes. (You should have about 5 to 6 cups.) Add the squash to the pot of vegetables and broth. Simmer for another 15 to 20 minutes. Purée in batches with a food processor or all at once with an immersion blender until creamy. Season with the juice of the lemon and salt and pepper to taste. Keep warm.
Add a dash of olive oil to a large pan along with a knob or two of butter. Set the heat to medium high. Place the lobster tails in the pan and fry until the meat is white, flipping to cook both sides. After the tails are cooked to perfection, turn off the heat on the stove and, very important, the evacuation system, if using. It’s time to flambée. Pour the Armagnac over the tails and quickly light a long kitchen match, dipping it into the alcohol. If the flames rise too high, grab a pot cover and snuff the flame out. Please note: flambée at your own risk. If you have long hair, tie it back out of the way.
Cut the lobster tails into bite-sized pieces. Pour the soup into bowls. Add a few morsels of lobster, about four to six pieces a person. Using a spatula, lift up the Parmesan crisps. Garnish the soup with one Parmesan crisp, and fresh herbs like lavender, thyme, or rosemary. Serve immediately.
Chef Sophie’s Notes:
To clean leeks, slice off the dark green end, trimming to the part where the color is pale green or white. Cut off the roots. Slice the stalk lengthwise, not cutting through it. Run leeks under cold water. Set aside until ready to chop and use.
This soup can be served on its own. Garnish with a dollop of crème fraîche (or sour cream), chopped chives, and fresh ground pepper.