So, besides Spam, what am I eating? Squash. Not because it’s the securities traders’ game of choice at the country club. Not because it implies that our democracy is ill matched against this stronger beast called capitalism. Not even because it’s tough on the outside but all mushy in the middle (like me). No, I’m eating squash because it’s in season cheap. Even at Whole Foods, butternut squash sells for $.99/lb and for this recipe, you’ll need about a $1.50’s worth to serve 6.
Vegetarian Squash Soup
- Meanwhile, dice one white onion and add it to the pot. Cook until the onion softens, about 10 minutes.
In a pot large enough to make soup, add the following spice mix that you either chop thoroughly or throw into a Cuisinart; naturally, everything is to taste and subject to availability:
- Small handful of lime leaves (or a bit of zest)
- 2-3 chilies
- 2 cloves of garlic
- 2 thumb-sized pieces of ginger (peeled)
- 3 sticks of lemongrass (tough outer leaves discarded)
- a large handful of cilantro
- a heaping teaspoon of each: 5 spice, cumin, coriander
- dash of cayenne
- Knock this out into your soup pot and cook briefly with a bit of olive oil to coax out the flavors.
|While that’s cooking, peel your squash, remove seeds and cut into 2″ chunks (or thereabout). Add it to the pot along with about 2 pints of chicken stock (or less depending on the amount of squashiness you want to come through). Stir the whole thing up to distribute spices, season, bring to a boil and reduce to simmer with a lid on for 15-20 minutes or until the squash is soft (not al dente, repeat soft).
|I was looking for very smooth soup so at this stage I removed my squash, strained the broth (pushing hard on the mix to extract as much flavor as possible), and then pureed the poached squash with the broth in the Cuisinart (not all at once). I put the puree back into the pot, adjusted with salt and brought back to a simmer.
|To finish, I added one 400 ml can of coconut milk, brought the soup back to a simmer but then took it off heat for the next day. Naturally, you could serve this immediately, but I let it cool, packaged a pint for my neighbor and put the rest in the fridge for tonight. My thinking is that the flavors will continue to round out with a rest (we’ll see in a few hours if I’m right).
|Jamie Oliver inspires this recipe. Whereas he used fresh peppers, I used whole dried Thai; he did not add cayenne nor did he add coriander (which was actually a mistake on my part, because I thought I picked up the cumin). I did not have lime leaves (neither did Whole Foods), so I used zest. He did not strain, but I did because I worried those other ingredients would mask the subtle squash flavor if I left them in and incorporated into the puree. I mention this to remind you that common sense rules — it’s not like you’re not enriching uranium or anything.
|JO likes to squeeze the juice of 1 or 2 limes into the finished soup (”for twang”) but I’m going to serve slices on the side like a condiment (frankly, I’m not convinced the soup needs a hit of acid; mine is spicy which is enough of a foil for the veg and “milk”). Since I roasted the seeds with additional chili and salt, I’ll use those as a garnish (liar, I ate them all last night so I’ll make a bit of wild or basmati rice because this girl can’t live without her starch).
|Because my Whole Foods stopped selling PBR I saved so much money making this soup, I’ll pair Geithner with Grüner (Veltliner).