Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Spicy Squash Soup

I love love love soup. It can be a one dish meal, a way to use leftovers, and a simple comfort. I know I’ve written about soups before, but there’s always room for more. Especially in the winter. At the moment I have, in my freezer, the following soup varieties: carrot ginger, tomato, mushroom barley, and pork tortilla. But even so, I decided to make more soup this week — inspired by a locally grown butternut squash I found at the store.

This recipe is a rare chestnut from my mother. It’s delicious, nutritious, inexpensive, and easy. The vegetables don’t have to be chopped very carefully, since they get blended. The amounts are fairly elastic. If you don’t have all the spices, don’t worry. The one fussy requirement is that you need either a blender, food processor, or immersion blender. Smoothness is key here.

This soup is also a great canvas for garnishes, which are part of the experience for this soup. This week I chose crème fraiche, toasted pepitas, and flat leaf parsley, mostly because that was what was in the fridge. With bread and a salad, it's a great meal. 

Spicy Squash and Pear Soup
adapted from Carole Brown

2 T. olive oil
1 medium onion, peeled and diced
1 butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and diced
2 garlic cloves, peeled
1 t. cumin
½ t. cinnamon
¼ t. cardamom
¼ t. ground ginger
2-3 pears, peeled, cored, and cut into chunks
4 c. chicken broth
salt and white pepper to taste
a squeeze of lemon

Heat oil in a soup pot. Add onions, squash, garlic, and spices. Cook on medium heat until onions start to soften and spices are fragrant, about five minutes. 

Add pears and broth. Simmer (but do not boil) for about 30 minutes until squash is soft. 

Remove from the heat and allow to cool a bit. Puree, either in a food processor or blender. If using an immersion blender, leave soup in the pot. Add salt and pepper and a squeeze of lemon juice to taste.

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