Let me tell you about the first boy I ever lived with. Not my brother. Not a significant other. To this day, it is still my longest-lasting living situation with a member of a gender not my own.
His name is Sebastian. He quickly became very dear to me during my university years. It didn’t take us too long to find out that we both had a passion for the same foods, the same drinks, the same SOUPS. With finances being tight at times, together we experienced some dark days. However, we were able to pull through many fall and winter seasons with cheap wine, Frank Sinatra, learning to knit together, and a little something-something called a “Good Food Box”. Good Food Boxes offered fresh produce on a monthly basis at a very low cost. We would place our orders together for large boxes at the university, lug them home in our sad plastic bags on the bus together, and plan meals together with whichever contents were being featured that month.
I remember the fall/winter boxes featuring different gourds each month. October’s box, of course, proudly showcased a pumpkin. “What the hell are we going to do with two entire pumpkins?”, we asked. We concluded that pumpkin soup was the only way to go, and made a thick and creamy orange concoction. We enjoyed a bowl or two each that night.
Here is where we went horribly wrong. Assuming that the other would pack away the leftovers in the fridge, we had left the pot of soup on the stovetop and forgot all about it. For a week. Maybe longer. Who could really say? Some time had passed until the next time we found ourselves together in the kitchen. And then we remembered. After a lot of nervous discussion about how we were going to go about getting rid of it, Sebastian was the brave one that opened the lid. What was underneath could only be described as “alien skin”. As quickly as possible, it was disposed of.
Flushed, but not forgotten.
Alien skin is why I haven’t touched pumpkin since. I toyed with the idea of using pumpkin for this recipe in place of squash, but ultimately decided that I’m still not ready, years later.
So, here you have it – my recipe for a creamy, orange SQUASH soup.
- 2 butternut squash, cut into halves, seeds scooped out
- 2 large red peppers, quartered, seeds and stems removed
- 2 large red tomatoes, quartered
- 2 medium sized onions, diced
- 2 whole red chili peppers intact, stems removed
- 1 bulb of garlic intact
- 6 cups vegetable stock
- 1/2 cup cilantro, chopped
- 250 ml (or 1/2 can) coconut milk
- 1.5 tbsp ginger, minced
- 1.5 tsp ground coriander
- 1 tsp cumin
- 3 tbsp olive oil, divided
- Salt and pepper
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Brush squash on cut side with olive oil, sprinkle with sea salt and pepper, and poke various holes with a fork on reverse side of squash. Place squash cut side down onto baking dish. Brush red peppers, chili peppers, tomatoes with more oil, sprinkle with sea salt and pepper, and place around the squash in the baking dish. If the baking dish is too crowded, use two. Wrap the bulb of garlic in tin foil and place in oven, along with the baking dishes. Roast vegetables for 1 hour, or until squash is soft and can be easily pierced with a fork through the skin side.
After vegetables have been roasting for about 30 minutes, heat the remainder of the oil over medium low in a large soup pot and add the onions. Cook for about ten minutes or until soft and just starting to brown. Add the cumin, ground coriander, and ginger and stir for about 2 minutes until fragrant. Add in the vegetable stock, increase heat to boil, and bring temperature back down to a simmer.
Remove vegetables from oven. Scoop squash out of skin, remove garlic from skin, roughly chop and remove any burnt skin from peppers and tomatoes, and add all vegetables into the stock. Continue to simmer with the pot covered while you work, as this may take some time working with the hot vegetables. Simmer for 10 minutes and stir in the chopped cilantro.
Working in batches, blend the contents of the pot until smooth. If using a standard blender, don’t forget to vent the lid to avoid a nasty orange explosion. Add the soup back to the pot, stir in the coconut milk, and bring temperature back up to a gentle boil.
Garnish with cilantro leaves or whole coriander seeds. This one is reminiscent of a curry, so it could be served alongside some buttered naan or over rice.
Serves 4 – 6.