This soup was originally called Squash Panade with Red Wine and it is from Chez Panisse Vegetables (one of my favourite cookbooks). It is basically a french onion soup. Deana Acheson re-named it duck fat soup after a particularly good dinner party many years ago.
I only make this dish once a year because it requires that you have already roasted a duck. I only roast a duck about once a year because duck is quite expensive. If you are going to eat such an expensive food it is important not to throw anything away, especially since every part of a duck is so very tasty. For duck roasting directions click here.
If you happen to be roasting a duck you should save all of the grease that gathers in the roasting pan. It keeps for a long time in the fridge and you can fry potatoes in it, make braised cabbage…or make this soup. After you have carved your duck you should make a soup stock from the bones and make this or any soup with it.
Of course, this soup is quite delicious made with any nice homemade stock and olive oil instead of duck fat. However, it is better with the duck fat and you will have the satisfaction of having stretched your expensive duck purchase into as much excellent food as possible. This year my neighbor Noah bought the duck and roasted it at my house (his oven was broken). It was very nice of him to share and I made some of this soup for him and Mya.
- 5 onions, peeled and thinly sliced
- 1/2 cup duck fat or olive oil (or a combination)
- 6 cloves of garlic, peeled and smashed
- 12 sprigs of fresh thyme
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 cup red wine
- 3 quarts homemade chicken, duck, turkey or vegetable stock
- 2 pounds butternut squash
- 1 pound fresh chanterelle mushrooms (if you can find them! Its good without them too)
- salt and pepper
- 10 slices stale country bread (I cannot eat bread so I always make myself a mini soup without it. Although it is lovely without it is MUCH better with the bread)
- 3 oz parmesan cheese (grated)
- Over medium heat, warm 1/4 cup of the olive oil or duck fat in a very large very heavy pot. Add the onions and a bit of salt. Cover and stew until the onions begin to soften.
- Add the garlic, thyme and bay leaves and continue to cook uncovered until the onions begin to brown (20 to 30 minutes)
- Turn up the heat and add the red wine. Cook, occasionally scraping the bottom of the pan until the wine has reduced by half.
- Add the stock and simmer for 30 minutes.
- Pre-heat the oven to 375.
- Meanwhile, peel the butternut squash, slice it in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds.
- Cut the squash into thin half circles.
- If you are using the chanterelles….clean, slice and saute them in a bit of duck fat or olive oil with salt and pepper. Add them to the stock.
- Heat the remaining duck fat or olive oil in a very wide, heavy frying pan over medium heat. When the oil is hot brown both sides of each of the 10 slices of bread.
- Layer half of the bread in the bottom of a very large and deep oven proof pot. Layer half of the sliced squash on to of that. Ladle half of the onion soup on top of that. Repeat the layers with the remaining ingredients. Top with parmesan cheese.
- Bake covered for 45 minutes. Uncover and bake for another 45 minutes.