Monday, October 14, 2013
Even though the sun is shining and it feels more like June than October, I’ve to declare soup season officially open. While global warming may be playing havoc with my desire to change out my wardrobe, at least the vegetables at the weekly Farmer’s Market seem to be changing colors.
In fact, butternut squash is right on schedule. I remember when I first moved to Rome, about 20 years ago, butternuts were few and far between. Every so often at ‘fancy’ markets, like Campo de’ Fiori, a few would show up. And at Piazza Vittorio, which even back then was leaning towards the ‘exotic’, I’d be able to sate my squashy cravings.
Thankfully things have changed these days. Farmer’s have started growing these easy to manage squashes, rather than rely solely on those massive pumpkins that you buy by the slice. Not only are butternuts sweeter, the flesh is firmer, less watery and makes the perfect vehicle for creamy soups.
My go-to recipe relies on lots of Indian spices. But last week I decided, instead, to go a nuttier route. Coconuttier, that is.
Rather than use broth, I poured in a can of creamy coconut milk. The only other seasonings were garlic, onion and ginger.
The soup is rich, velvety and creamy and tasted like fall to me. The brilliant color of the soup begs for drizzling, and this is where you can get creative. Yogurt is, of course, delicious, but I also had some excellent roasted pumpkin seed oil that was not only pretty, but also further intensified the whole pumpkin thing.
I finally did switch out my closet this weekend. But since today is supposed to be another warm and sunny day, I’ll have to rely on this soup to remind me that summer is finally over.
butternut squash and coconut soup
1 large onion,peeled and chopped
2 medium butternut squash
4 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
1 2-inch chunk of ginger (about 3 tablespoons, chopped)
1 8oz can coconut milk
2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for roasting
1 1/2 tsp salt
Preheat oven to 200C/400F
Wash the butternut squash and cut in in half , across its middle. Then cut each half into quarters, lengthwise. Coat well with olive oil, salt and put on a big oven tray. Roast in the oven for about a half hour, 40 minutes, until the squash is soft and beginning to brown at the edges.
In the meantime, put olive oil in a large soup pot, and, over gentle heat, soften onions. Once onions are soft, about 15 minutes, add chopped garlic and chopped ginger. Stir and let cook about 5 minutes. Turn off heat.
Once the squash is cool enough to handle cut off the flesh from the skin and add to the pot with seasonings. Add salt, the coconut milk and enough water to come up about 1 inch over the squash. Let simmer for about 10 minutes.
Turn off heat and puree’ with hand held mixture until smooth. Taste and adjust for seasonings. If it seems too thick, you can add a cup of regular milk or water.
To serve: ladle into individual bowls and drizzle with yogurt, roasted pumpkin seed oil, or even good balsamic.