Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Curried Acorn Squash Soup

First off let me state that I am not a "soup person". Soup as a meal never seemed like a good idea to me because, in my formative years, it was just a can of liquid with a little bit solid stuff floating around in it with neither amounting to enough to be a meal. It was always something you had while you waited for the entree. A time killer. As I got older, and started cooking for myself, soup was a base to which I added mountains of meat and/or vegetables to end up with a stew. In the back of my mind, however, I kept thinking that there must be something to this soup-as-a-meal thing, that there must be a bowl of liquid out there that would be hearty enough to stand on its own. Serendipity stepped in to change my thinking as I had bought a large acorn squash a week ago thinking I would do with it as I usually do: slice it into rings and bake it with a buttery maple glaze. Then I remembered having tiny cups of butternut squash soup served as an appetizer at some of the events I worked as a server/waiter/butler for and figured, hey, I can do that. Now, I love curried vegetables like what you get at Indian restaurant and I like stir frying zucchini and yellow squash with curry powder so i thought I'd try to combine the ideas of a winter squash soup with a veggie curry. The recipe below is a combination of three that I found. I just picked out the ingredients I liked and added a twist of my own.

Curried Acorn Squash Soup

3lbs acorn (or any winter squash)
3 cups of vegetable broth
1 pint of half and half
1 onion, chopped fine
1 tbl ground pepper (I use a combo of black and Sichuan peppercorns)
1 tsp salt, more if needed
1/4 cup of brown sugar
2 tbl madras curry powder
2 tbl Thai red curry paste
1/2 cup chunky peanut butter
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1-1/2 to 2 tbl paprika
1/2 red bell pepper, diced

Halve the squash, remove the seeds and membrane, place on a lightly oiled sheet pan and bake at 350°F, uncovered, until it's soft (about an hour). Let it cool then scoop the flesh into a food processor and puree until smooth. Sautee the onion in a little oil until soft then add it to a little of the squash puree and process until smooth then add it to the rest of the squash. Put the squash in a large pot, add the broth, sugar, salt, pepper, curry powder, and paprika. Bring to a boil on medium-low heat. Take a cup or two of the hot soup and put in a bowl with the red curry paste and peanut butter and wisk until mixed well then add it back to the pot. Return to a low boil and add the half and half and heat through (about 5 minutes). Ladle into bowls and garnish with the bell pepper, a drizzle of cream or coconut milk.

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