Sunday, November 22, 2015

butternut squash soup with coconut milk, miso, and lime.

I've been eating a lot of soup lately.  I feel like I need to make up for all of October (and let's be honest the beginning of November) where the temperatures still felt like late summer/early fall and soup was the last thing I wanted to consume.  

Global warming is throwing my food eating game off.  

But now, as Tyler declared to me this morning, it is officially fall and soup is now a part of our weekly dinner cycle.   

Squash based soups, as much as I love them, can be a little boring at times.  No one wants to feel like a 30 year old eating baby food.   So I was pleasantly surprised when perusing Deborah Madison's Vegetable Literacy that she suggested you stir cooked rice into your squash soup.  It provides a nice chew and a pleasant textural contrast to an otherwise simple puree.  

The base of this squash soup is all of my favorite things namely miso and ginger with a good kick of heat.  That flavor profile is warming and interesting making it perfect for cold evenings (and a great light meal before and after the big Turkey day!).  

Butternut Squash Soup with Coconut Milk, Miso, and Lime
Recipe from Vegetable Literacy by Deborah Madison

Serves 4 to 6

One butternut squash weighing about 2 pounds is what’s needed here. The straight, easy-to-peel neck of the squash is cubed; the seed end is steamed and used to thicken the soup. That way, you get both a creamy texture and distinct pieces. The addition of rice makes the soup chewy and more interesting to eat in larger portions.

1 butternut squash (about 2 pounds)
2 tablespoons light sesame oil
1 large onion, diced
1 heaping tablespoon peeled and chopped fresh ginger
2 teaspoons crushed Aleppo pepper
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/2 cup cilantro stems or leaves, chopped, plus cilantro sprigs to finish
Sea salt
1 (15-ounce) can coconut milk
Juice of 1 lime
1/2 cup white or brown basmati rice
1 to 2 teaspoons coconut butter
3 tablespoons white miso

Cut the squash crosswise into 2 pieces just where the rounded (seed) end begins. Cut the rounded end in half lengthwise and start it steaming over simmering water while you go on to deal with the neck of the squash.

Peel the neck, slice it in half crosswise, then slice each half lengthwise into slabs about 3/8 inch thick. Cut the lengths into strips and then into 1/2-inch cubes. Heat the oil in a soup pot over medium-high heat. Add the onion, squash, and ginger, stir to coat, and cook, stirring occasionally, for a few minutes. Add the Aleppo pepper, turmeric, chopped cilantro, and 1 1/2 teaspoons salt. Cook for another 3 minutes, stirring occasionally, and then add the coconut milk and 3 cups water. Bring to a boil, lower the heat to a simmer, and cook until the squash is tender, about 25 minutes.

Meanwhile, return to the seed end of the squash. As soon as it is tender, lift the pieces onto your counter, scrape out the seeds, and scoop out the flesh. Puree the flesh with 1 cup of the liquid from the soup, plus extra water (or coconut milk, if you have some on hand) if needed to achieve a good consistency. Stir the puree into the soup. Taste for salt and season with the lime juice, to taste.

To cook the rice, bring 1 cup water to a boil. Add the rice and 1/4 teaspoon salt and bring back to a boil. Turn down the heat to low, cover, and cook until done, about 15 minutes.

Toss the rice with the coconut butter to taste.

Just before serving, dilute the miso in little of the soup liquid, mashing it until smooth, then stir it into the soup. Heat the soup, keeping it just below a boil, then ladle it into bowls. Add a little rice to each bowl, and finish with cilantro sprigs.

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