Sunday, April 1, 2007

Blue Squash Soup

March left yesterday with a swish of her skirts, bringing a mix of fog, mist, rain and sun. Typical for our part of the world. In March, some days we're in T-shirts, the next jackets. Yesterday we wore jackets.

And Jeffrey painted the breakfast room in tones of the pink and peach seen in the beautiful Australian Blue Squash that my sister Cynthia brought over this past Thanksgiving.

The gray, misty (we call it "spitting") day called for something filling, warming and light, in keeping with the longer, only slightly warmer days.

As I gazed at the colors taking shape on the walls of the breakfast room, the two squashes that had been sitting on the counter lending color inspiration, began to morph into a smooth yet rustic, spicy vegan soup right before my eyes. It was time.

I'm only sorry I didn't get this to Kalyn today in time for Weekend Herb Blogging. Oh, well. There's always next week.

The measurements for this soup are a bit whimsical. I just put things together until the soup came together. See the Cook's Notes below for further elucidation.

Blue Squash Soup
Christine's original recipe
4 shallots, peeled and thinly sliced
3 large cloves garlic, peeled and thinly sliced
1 red bell pepper, seeded, sliced thinly lengthwise, then sliced crosswise
1 tablespoon good olive oil
2 teaspoons Earth Balance
4 cups well cooked squash, mashed with a fork
1 tablespoon good curry powder
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon kosher salt (or to taste)
4 to 8 cups vegetable broth (depending on how thick or thin you like your soup)
2 cups organic, unsweetened soy milk
6 basil leaves, torn or cut chiffonade
freshly ground black pepper

Place the prepared squash and the vegetable broth in a stock pot and stir.
Place over medium low heat.
Saute the shallots, garlic and red bell pepper in the olive oil and Earth Balance until cooked through and slightly golden brown.
Add the curry powder and cinnamon and stir until the spices release their aromas and are incorporated into the veggie saute.
Add the saute to the squash mixture and stir.
Raise the heat under the stock pot to medium. When the soup simmers, add the soy milk, stir to blend and cook for about 10 minutes. Do not boil.
Add the salt and pepper and check for taste.
Add the basil and cook for about 5 minutes longer.
Remove from the heat and blend,using an immersion blender for a more rustic soup, or a regular blender for a smooth soup.
Serve, eat and enjoy.

Cook's Notes:
I cut and seeded the squash, cut it into quarters, placed in a large roasting pan with about 1/2 inch of water in the bottom of the pan, covered with foil and baked at 350 for about 1 1/2 hours. You will need to let the squash cool before scooping the pulp from the skins. One could use canned squash, but fresh is really best.
Any of the saute veggies could be cut finer. This is just the way I did them because I was working out the preparation method as I was cooking.
The liquids may be varied as your whimsey desires.
The soup was delicious before the soy milk was added. I used soy because it's vegan (Jeffrey's here) and I wanted to add a bit of healthy creaminess.
The basil could be chopped fine, if desired, and some of it sprinkled on top as garnish.
A swirl of creme fraiche just before serving would make an elegant presentation if you're not cooking vegan. I, myself, am trying to cook heart-healthy these days and am avoiding dairy fats.
And lastly, the soup may look like baby food but, trust me, your taste buds will wake up and dance.

Copyright © 2005-2007, Christine Cooks. All rights reserved.