Chef William Dissen’s Candy Roaster Squash Soup

William Dissen is the executive chef and owner of The Market Place in Asheville as well as Haymaker in Charlotte, and Billy D’s Fried Chicken at the North Carolina Zoo in Asheboro.

I worked with the Slow Food organization to help get candy roaster squash on their arc of taste. The heirloom squash dates back to Native American times and originated in our region of Appalachia. Being a native of Appalachia, I love to find ingredients that come from the region, and the candy roster squash has become one of my favorite!  

For me, local food not only improves our community and local economies, but it also lowers our carbon footprint. As a flavor chaser, local food is closer to the field. As a chef I’m able to source ingredients that don’t have to be picked underripe from across the country. Ingredients that are ripen on the plant are full of flavor, vitamins, and deliciousness!

I’ve been working with Anne and Aaron Grier from Gaining Ground Farm for over 14 years. I’ve always love their philosophy to take care of the land and the community. It very much parallels my own. I really believe you can taste their integrity in each fruit and vegetable they harvest on their land.

I love all the seasons because I love every fruit and vegetable! But I really do love the cross seasons between summer and fall. Every year in mid-September we start finding tomatoes and peppers and squash intermingled with fall greens, sweet potatoes, and winter squash.


For the squash puree:

  • 1 candy roaster squash or other pumpkin
  • olive oil
  • salt
  • pepper

For the soup:

  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 yellow onion, medium dice
  • 2 stalks celery, medium dice
  • 1/2 leek, medium dice
  • 1 tablespoon garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon ginger, minced
  • 1 quart pureed candy roaster squash or pumpkin
  • 1 bay leaf
  • vegetable stock as needed
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 1/2 cups heavy cream
  • pinch ground nutmeg
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • wildflower honey to taste


For the squash puree:

  1. Preheat the oven to 425°F. Cut the candy roaster squash in half. Remove the seeds and fibrous strings. Using a sharp knife score the flesh of the squash every 2–3 inches. Drizzle with olive oil, and season with salt and pepper.
  2. Place squash on a parchment-lined sheet tray and bake in the oven until squash is tender when pierced with a knife, about 1 hour. Remove from oven and allow to cool. Use a spoon to separate the squash meat from the skin, discarding the skin. Puree in a blender or food processor or mash by hand.

For the soup:

  1. Melt butter in a large pot over medium-high heat. Sauté the onions, celery, leeks, garlic, and ginger in the butter until tender. Deglaze pot with white wine and reduce by half.
  2. Add the squash puree and bay leaf along with enough vegetable stock to cover the pumpkin. Lower the heat and simmer for 35–45 minutes, until all the veg is tender. Add heavy cream and continue to cook for 5–7 minutes to heat the cream through.
  3. Puree the soup in batches in a blender until completely smooth.
  4. Season to taste with salt, pepper, honey, and nutmeg. If the soup is too thick add more vegetable stock and re-adjust seasoning. This makes about 2 quarts of soup.

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