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Isn’t is fun to cook with interesting looking ingredients? Star anise is one of my faves – beautiful and fragrant. Native to China, the star anise pod is harvested from a small evergreen tree. It’s a primary ingredient in Chinese five-spice powder and in garam masala, used in Indian and Indonesian cooking. And its flavor really brightens this soup.

star anise and seed

Butternut Squash Soup with Star Anise and Ginger Shrimp
Based on a recipe from Gourmet Magazine
This will make enough soup for 8 first courses or 4 main courses. I like to make just enough shrimp for two for dinner (4 shrimp each), and have the plain soup for lunch the next day or two.

2 tbsp unsalted butter or olive oil
3 whole star anise
1.5 tbsp finely grated ginger
2/3 cup minced shallot
1 clove garlic, thinly sliced
1.75 pound butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into 1″ cubes
4 cups chicken broth
16 whole shrimp, cleaned and deveined. leave the tails on for a pretty presentation.
chopped cilantro for garnish

soup fixin's

5 cups cubed butternut squash

Toss the shrimp with 1 tbsp of ginger and refrigerate for 30 minutes. No longer, or the ginger will start to cook the shrimp.

Melt butter over medium heat, then add the star anise, shallot and garlic. Sauté until soft.

shallots, garlic & star anise softening in butter

Add the squash, 1/2 tbsp ginger and the broth, bring to a boil and simmer until the squash is tender, about 20 minutes.

ready to simmer

Remove star anise, and using a stick blender, blend the mixture until smooth.

Heat a grill pan until very hot. Give it a quick spritz of cooking spray, then add shrimp and season with salt. Grill just until cooked through, about 1.5 minutes per side. The shrimp will curl and turn pink.

Ladle soup into shallow bowls, mound shrimp in the center and garnish with cilantro.

butternut squash soup with star anise and ginger shrimp

Yes anise, you were the star of this show.