Leaves & Roots Lemongrass Soup

Orange rectangular banner that says "Vegan MoFo" and "Vegan Month of Food 2011."

In my first post of MoFo 2011, I talked about tatsoi, a new-to-me green. It was delicious and photogenic:

A large bowl of tatsoi, shot from above.

Green leaves.

I enjoyed half my bundle of tatsoi in a simple dish of sauteed greens with marinated tofu, but I wanted to do something different with the remaining half. Many of the comments you all left on that post included your thoughts on how to use this pretty green, but Andrea‘s comment was especially appealing:

What a gorgeous bunch of greens! I like tatsoi in stir-fries and in soup, especially Asian-inspired soups.

Soup – I can’t believe I didn’t think of that! I don’t know about you, but I feel immensely healthy and happy when I eat a giant bowl of soup filled with leafy greens and other veggies. Because you boil the greens right in the broth, you know that any nutrients that seep out during cooking remain in the broth itself, providing you with a slurpable bowl of goodness.

With dreams of soup in my head, I went back to the co-op in search of inspiration. I returned with a big bag of groceries, including the following rustic-looking bounty:

A wooden cutting board with a burdock root, a piece of ginger, and a stalk of lemongrass.

Roots and leaves.

I was so pleased to find burdock root – I’ve eaten it once before in a soup, and I loved its earthy flavor and unique texture. I also picked up ginger root and lemongrass. All these yummy ingredients met the last of my tatsoi for a swim in my big ol’ Le Creuset stock pot, and out came this pretty, colorful soup:

A big bowl of soup sitting on a wooden board. In the bowl you can see carrots, burdock roots, cooked greens, and cubed tofu. To the right of the bowl is a pho spoon. In front of the bowl are sliced green onions and a few slices of lime.

Green soup.

Leaves & Roots Lemongrass Soup
Serves four (or three, if you’re a piggy-pig-pig like me!)

1 T reduced-sodium soy sauce
1 T agave nectar
1/4 t ground ginger
1/4 t garlic powder
1.5 C extra firm tofu, chopped into cubes

1 T olive oil
1 burdock root (about 7” long), well peeled and thinly sliced (yields about 1/2 cup)
2 T reduced-sodium soy sauce
1 T rice vinegar
1 large carrot, sliced (about 1/2 cup)
1 T freshly minced ginger
1 piece star anise
6 C vegetable broth
1 stalk lemongrass (bottom cut in half and then quartered; sliced into 1-inch pieces and gently bruised with side of knife)
3 C tightly packed chopped tatsoi (or other green)
1 bundle mung bean vermicelli noodles
1/2 lime (optional)
Toasted sesame oil (optional)

In a small bowl, whisk the first four ingredients until they’re well incorporated. Add the tofu cubes and give them a little shake so all their sides are covered in the marinade. Set aside.

Add olive oil to a large stock pot and heat on medium-high. When oil is hot, add the burdock root. Saute 5 – 7 minutes or until the burdock root begins to soften; depending on how thinly you’ve sliced the burdock, it might take more or less time. Add soy sauce, rice vinegar, and spices and saute for 30 more seconds. Add the broth and turn up the heat. When the broth is boiling, add lemongrass and boil for 5 more minutes or until the lemongrass is somewhat tender. Add greens, noodles, tofu, and remaining tofu marinade and reduce heat to medium-low and let simmer for seven to ten minutes. If using bean threads, remember that you might need to use kitchen shears to cut them once they soften – they often come in a big intertwined ball.

When the greens are soft and the noodles are ready, drizzle the soup with the juice of 1/2 a lime and a few drops of toasted sesame oil. Ladle into bowls and top with diced scallions and fresh basil leaves, if desired. Enjoy!

I really liked this soup – it had a unique blend of flavors, ones I don’t usually cook with. I did find the lemongrass a little tough, so you might need to cook it for longer (or even saute it with the burdock root). It still hit the spot, though, filling my tummy and making me feel super healthy and satiated.

Have you cooked with burdock root? Do you have any secrets for making lemongrass more palatable?

Erudite Eats: District 13 Bean and Onion Stew

Yesterday morning, as part of my campaign to slow down and make time for myself, I took a bath, an honest to goodness fill-up-the-tub-and-scald-your-girly-bits bath. I used a Lush bath bomb I’d been holding on to for a year or two, and it was glorious. Sure, I learned that the stopper in my bathtub’s drain doesn’t actually work very well, so I had to cover it with a sponge and anchor the sponge with my foot, and sure, my long, curly hair doesn’t take well to immersion-washing and might’ve turned into a bit of a rat’s nest afterwards, but hey, I spent twenty minutes soaking in hot, almond-y water and reading. So you know what? I’m calling it a success.

I used the in-tub downtime to start reading Mockingjay, the third and final book in Suzanne Collins’ Hunger Games trilogy. I’ve already shared my bibliophilic tendencies, and yes – those tendencies extend to young adult fantasy(ish) novels. I’m not ashamed; I think the series is great and definitely worth a read. They’re like brain candy; quick to get through and immensely enjoyable. As I read my book, MoFo was the last thing on my mind; I was more concerned with, y’know, the story’s plot. But then I read the following line and knew what I had to do:

“Either because the prep team’s incapacitated or I’m too on edge, Plutarch releases me from Mockingjay duties for the rest of the day. Gale and I head down to lunch, where we’re served bean and onion stew, a thick slice of bread, and a cup of water.”

There was just something about the idea of a warm stew that appealed to me yesterday, possibly because it was chilly, grey, and drizzly. So I headed into the kitchen to whip up District 13 Bean and Onion Stew:

Katniss-approved?

Inredients
1/2 [very] large yellow onion, thinly sliced (If I’d had a whole onion, I would’ve used it!)
2 T extra virgin olive oil
2 C roughly chopped mushrooms (I used baby bella)
2 C vegetable broth (I use Better Than Bouillon’s Vegetable Base, but I think a faux-beef stock would work fantastically here)
15 oz cooked Great Northern beans
1 bay leaf
3/4 t dried sage (I used sage I’d dried during the summer… mmm!)
1/4 t thyme
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

In a saucepot, heat the olive oil over medium heat and add onions. Cook until the onions begin to get soft and translucent, about 10 minutes. Add mushrooms and cook them down for about another 10 minutes. Add the vegetable broth and the remaining ingredients and bring soup to a boil. Turn heat down to low and simmer for another 30 minutes, until the onions are very soft.

Simple, yet so delicious – I was quite pleased with this stew! I didn’t think adding mushrooms was too much of a stretch from the book version, as I’m sure they could be grown easily in District 13’s underground gardens. Or, if not, Katniss and Gale could gather them during their 2 hours of sanctioned daily hunting time. And I bet potatoes would make another great addition to this rustic, homey stew.

I served this with the Dijon-Thyme Bread from 500 Vegan Recipes, which was not entirely successful. It was my first yeasted breadmaking experience (!), and I realized too late that I didn’t have either of the kinds of flour called for in the recipe. Really, though, the only problem was its failure to rise; it tasted just fine. I know Dijon-Thyme Bread is probably a little fanciful for District 13 – it’s more appropriate for the Capital, perhaps – but maybe my baking error humbled it a little bit. ;)

Have you read the Hunger Games series? Do you ever read books that aren’t targeted to your age group? I’ve already said that I’m a diehard Harry Potter fan, so perhaps it’s not surprising that I’ve enjoyed the Hunger Games books so much!

Miso, miso, fighting in the dojo!

Can I get a BRRR, y’all?! Madison might not have gotten the snowstorm that slammed other parts of the Midwest this weekend (MSP, how you doin’?!), but it is ch-ch-chilly. I have yet to turn on my apartment’s heat, though, and now I’m stubbornly determined to wait until December to do it. I’m just hoping that they light the pilots/turn on the gas for our gas fireplace soon, because we don’t pay for the gas and it’s mighty nice to keep a fire going when it’s cold! I also think it’s time to shrink wrap my windows… my computer desk is right in front of my bedroom window, which on its own does a very half-arsed job of keeping the cold air out. As I said – brrr.

So what’s a girl to do on a cold day? If you said, discover the joys of a veganized, agave-sweetened hot toddy, well, um, you’re right, but that’s another topic for another day. I’m talking about soup-makin’! Miso soup, if you want to get technical. Ever since buying my first tub o’ miso a month or two ago, I’ve been in love with how quickly I can whip up a tasty, nourishing bowl of soup. It’s endlessly versatile; I can throw whatever I want in there and it just takes it (twss). Yesterday I enjoyed this pretty little bowl of warmth:

Oriental prince in the land of soup!

Mmm. I feel like I might be insulting all my readers’ foodie street cred by posting a recipe for this, but I’ll be honest – I was a little vague on the specifics of miso-soup-making for an embarrassingly long time. So, what the heck – I’ll share my personal take on miso.

Fighting in the Dojo Miso Soup for One
Ingredients
2 C water or vegetable broth
Generous handful of rice noodles
Thinly sliced veggies of your choice (carrots, leeks, etc.)
1/4 t freshly grated ginger
1/4 t dried lemongrass
1 T mild yellow miso
1/4 C tofu, cubed

In a small pot, bring water or broth to a boil and add veggies and spices. After about 5-7 minutes, when the veggies are getting soft, add the rice noodles. Cook noodles and veggies for another 5 – 7 minutes. Turn off heat, stir in the miso until dissolved, and top with cubed tofu. Voila!

I know this is probably a highly unorthodox miso soup, but I love the kick of ginger and the subtle flavor of lemongrass. I suspect that this would make for a great chicken soup stand-in during the sicky times of winter, but I haven’t been sick in ages, so I haven’t had a chance to try that out (curses… did I just jinx myself?!). Simple, quick, and tasty. Yum!

Do you like miso soup? Do you have a go-to recipe for a quick soup? Do share!

Vegan MoFo IV: It’s Finally Here!

It’s finally here – Vegan MoFo IV begins today! As excited as I am for this MoFo, new beginnings always send me on a long path down memory lane, so I can’t help but reflect a bit on last year’s MoFo experience.

Thirteen months ago marked the beginning of Vegan MoFo III. Thirteen months ago also marked the official beginning of my life as a vegan. During MoFo III, I posted every single day. During MoFo III, I lived with my parents and worked a part-time job with hourly pay. Coincidence? As if.

During MoFo III, I thought to myself, Daily posts? No big deal! Imma rock this shizz and get all up in MoFo’s grill, every day! I’m a new vegan and nothin’ can stop me! Burnout?! What’s that?!?

Ah, naiveté. This year, I live in a big-girl apartment and work a full-time, salaried, big-girl job. I often work 45 – 50 hours a week, and sometimes when I get home from work I’m absolutely exhausted, and the thought of writing up a blog post (not to mention making food about which to blog!) seems like the foodie equivalent of climbing Everest while wearing a bikini, keeping my eyes shut, and having noodles for arms. Plus, as I’ve said before, it’s deadline time for writers at my company, so things are extra busy these days.

Not to mention the fact that I’ll be  on a sUp3R sP3c!@L work trip this weekend, working 12-hour shifts on Saturday, Sunday, and Monday. I’ll be lucky if my destination (a small town outside Columbus, Ohio) has any vegetarian options, never mind sweet vegan eats that’d merit a MoFo post.

So, November? Yeah, not really the ideal month for hot MoFo action.

However. Having said all that, here are some more factoids about me: I’m a little bit of a masochist. And I’m a perfectionist. And OCD? Yeah, she and I are kinda sorta best frenemies. And so. This year, for Vegan MoFo IV, I am going to post every single day. There, I said it out loud – I’m accountable now! I’ve been thinkin’ about how to make this a fun, enjoyable experience, one that won’t leave me weeping on the floor, cursing the blogosphere, and swearing off anything besides frozen burritos just as that most venerated of time periods – Christmas baking season! – begins. So here are some themes and topics you can look forward to in the month ahead:

  • Nomadic Noshing. I’ll try out some [mostly] authentic foods inspired by places I’ve visited, places I’ve lived, and places I’d like to visit.
  • Cookbook Challenges. Let’s face it – there are some cookbooks I underuse or (heaven forbid!) don’t use at all. I’ll choose a couple of those sad, neglected books and pick recipes that’ve slipped under my radar ’til now.
  • Erudite Eats. I’ll make foods inspired by my favorite books, films, works of art… that sort of thing. I’m really excited about this one!
  • Keepin’ it Raw. I’ve dipped my toe into the ocean of raw foods before, but ’til now I’ve kept it simple with chocomole, banana soft serve, zucchini noodles, and simple stuff like that. It’s time to wade on in and go for a swim!
  • Spreadin’ the Bloggy Luuurve. Y’all have some great recipes out there, and it’s high time I stop just bookmarking or starring them or adding them to my Crap I Want to Make document, and actually make them!

I’ve also got another idea to take MoFo to the next level: interactivity. When I know I have lots of time to devote to cooking, I’ll ask you to challenge me, to suggest recipes for me to try. If I get too many suggestions, I’ll use a random number generator to choose a few of your suggestions and cross my fingers and toes that I don’t wind up making opera cake and vegan turducken.

Beyond those special topics and themes, I’ll also post recipes, product reviews, and – let’s be honest here – the occasional cop-out food survey. And to start things off, how about one of those recipes?

Forgive my silly attempt at a sriracha spiral...

Thai-Inspired Cocobutternut Soup
Ingredients (Makes 1 or 2 servings)
~ 1/2 butternut squash, roasted and gently mashed
1 can light coconut milk
1 t dried lemongrass
Curry powder, salt, and any other spices to taste

After roasting your squash, heat coconut milk and spices in a pot. Transfer all ingredients to a blender (in batches, if necessary), and puree until smooth. Serve with sriracha for a kick of spice.

…yep. That’s it. Simple and quick. :) I think I liked this soup, but I’m not sure. I definitely liked the idea of it, but my reservations towards coconut-flavored things kept me from falling madly in love with it and running off to Vegas to get hitched. Maybe you’ll like it, though.

…and with that, I’ll wrap up my inaugural MoFo IV post. You should know that I essentially wrote this post twice yesterday because WordPress ate the first one. You should also know that, despite it having been a frustrating day in the food department (burnt oven fries and dry pie dough and stupid kitchen towels that kept falling off the oven handle, oh my!), I resisted my urge to cry and/or give up on MoFo before it began. Instead, I immediately rewrote the post. I know that I forgot a totally awesome title for a couple of my themes/topics, but other than that I think I recreated it fairly well. An inauspicious beginning, perhaps, but things can only go up from here, eh?

Anyway – happy MoFoing, and I’ll see y’all tomorrow!

In Which Mama Nature Makes a Liar of Me and Then I Show You a Photo of Soup

Whoa! I’m so happy that y’all are excited about my giveaway! If you haven’t entered yet, what are you waiting for?! There’s a fantastic cookbook and some yummy treats up for grabs – so git!

Of course, right after I post about how it’s sooo autumnal and seasonably chilly and the epitome of fall and whatnot, the weather has to go and make a liar liar pants on fire out of me. Thanks a lot, Mama Nature. I mean, it was 70 degrees in Madison today! Shenanigans! It’s okay, though. I’ll take blue skies and warming rays of sun any day, even if they make me eat my words.

However, I’d rather eat something delicious and tasty – like soup! I’ve been testing for Lindsay‘s upcoming soup, stew, and chili-riffic e-book, and I’ve had some seriously yummy eats lately! From hearty, filling chilis to elegant, bisque-like squash soups, she’s got some tasty recipes. I enjoyed this pureed, bean-based soup this weekend (when it was ACTUALLY autumn-like!).

Neutral tones ftw!

I won’t divulge any of Lindsay’s secrets, but suffice it to say that this was a really warming and comforting dish. So if you’re in the mood for soups, stews, and chili galore, keep a bonny eye out for her e-book! And go enter my giveaway for a chance to win Nava Atlas’ Vegan Soups and Hearty Stews for All Seasons.

Or if you prefer muffins to soup, check out Emily‘s sweet giveaway! She’s kindly giving away a hand-baked batch of yummy muffins, and you can choose the variety!

ORRR – and I promise that this is the last giveaway I’m going to mention today! – you could go enter to win one of three cookbooks published by Vegan Heritage Press. You can choose between American Vegan Kitchen, Vegan Unplugged, and Vegan Fire & Spice. Awesome!

Yummy Things That I Have Made

Okay, that’s it – I’m officially retiring the whole “I just moved to a new city and started a new job and therefore have no time to blog!!1!111!” excuse. I mean, I’ve been here for a good two and a half months, for crying out loud!  Now that I’m all settled into my new life, I’ve been doing lots more baking and cooking than I was at first. So I hereby promise to post more regularly from this point forward.

…and now let me show you a few photos with minimal text. What? I’ve had a busy weekend, by which I mean I went ice skating for the first time in some fifteen years in a misguided attempt to replicate all the fantastic feats of athleticism seen in the Olympics. Yeah… fail. I ain’t no Apolo Anton Ohno. Anyway, these are some photos that’ve been hibernating in my iPhoto for a while now, so I’m going to show them a little bit o’ love. Totally less than they deserve, but c’est la vie.

Peanutty, eggplanty goodness.

A while back, I bought an eggplant and wanted to do something exciting and new with it. As any self-respecting vegan would do, I headed over to the PPK in search of inspiration. Inspiration came in the form of an intriguing recipe for Spicy Peanut Eggplant and Shallot Stew, a combination of ingredients too bizarre to pass up. Despite the fact that I had no shallots, peanut oil, roasted diced tomatoes, fresh ginger, chilis, green beans, or cilantro, the recipe was very forgiving – I replaced the green beans with peas and improvised for the other missing ingredient, and the results were surprisingly tasty. I still have a serving of this in the freezer, waiting to be brought to work for a yummy lunch one day soon. Two thumbs up!

Samosas... and beyond!

There’s a lot going on here. Let me draw your attention to the foreground – those are some damn tasty Potato-Edamame Samosas from VWaV. I whipped up those beauties for a Super Bowl party a co-worker held, and they were well-received by everyone except her two-year-old, who took one bite and immediately spat it into his hand before dumping the soggy samosa-bit onto a plate. I learned that he later developed a fondness for the samosas and actually enjoyed them – score! Anyway, this is a really excellent recipe. The samosa filling has a great blend of flavors, and I had so much of it left over that I ate it straight-up, as you can see in the photo. This huge dinner featured samosa filling, actual samosas, baby carrots, and roasted cauliflower with so-called Indian Barbecue Sauce. Nom to the zillionth power!

Check out those exposed apple bits! Shocking!

Last but not least, check out this amazing Apple Pie-Crumb Cake Muffin, also from VWaV. I don’t think you can tell from the photo, but this is one giant muffin – for Christmas I got one of those tins that makes 6 big ol’ muffins, and this was my first time using it. Oh my gosh, guys – these muffins are absolutely spectacular. They’re moist and amazingly flavorful, even though I used plain ol’ apple juice instead of apple cider. I also replaced some of the oil with applesauce to cut down a bit on the fat content. And even though I used some seriously old and mealy apples in these guys, they were seriously delicious.

Aaand that concludes my sad little return to srs blogging. Coming soon: a post filled with the fruits of rampant consumerism. Ooer.

In Which I Wax Nostalgic about Ancho Lentil Soup

Back in the dark ages when I was a college senior (by which I mean one year ago), I lived with my two best friends in an on-campus townhouse. It was pretty much the most ideal arrangement imaginable; we basically had our own apartment/house without all that pesky business of upkeep and monthly bills. My favorite aspect of the whole situation was that we had our own kitchen. After living in the dorms for three years – and therefore eating at the dining hall for three years – the fact that we could store our food without worrying about freshmen stealing it and then cook whatever we wanted seemed to open up new vistas of culinary freedom and possibility. As I’m sure I’ve mentioned in the past, this was a turning point in my path to becoming vegan.

When I began college, I’d been vegetarian for about half a year, and I appreciated the dining hall’s constant availability of decent vegetarian food. I had choices for every meal, usually, and for the most part it was pretty decent, as far as cafeteria fare goes. My friends were accepting of my lifestyle and dietary choices – after all, I did attend the most awesome college on the planet – but even so, I occasionally felt the need to assure them that vegetarian was as far as I’d go. “No way I could go vegan,” I’d say, “I love cheese!”

Wince all you want at that; I’m just being honest here. At that point in my life, I hadn’t really been exposed to much vegan fare. Eighty percent of the vegetarian foods in the cafeteria were decidedly non-vegan, so I still held a bit of that pesky belief that vegans really must not eat much at all. Sure, the salad bar had lots of  tasty options, and there was always a crockpot of rice available, and pasta with tomato sauce is always solid… but what about breakfast?! All those pancakes and baked goods were out, and most of the Malt-O-Meal brand cereals probably contained dairy, and I’d never be able to use that fun waffle maker with the batter in a bottle! Being vegan and eating well in the dining hall just didn’t seem possible.

In retrospect, I bet I could’ve been creative enough to come up with some fun dishes of my own with the basic ingredients that were available. In fact, I unknowingly did – I used to mix rice with sundried tomato pesto and various beans occasionally, and hummus and veggie sandwiches were always a solid lunchtime option. But it wasn’t until I had my own kitchen, did all my own grocery shopping, and discovered the vegan blogworld that I suddenly realized that being vegan didn’t mean limiting one’s options and condemning oneself to a life of bland, boring foodstuffs. Suddenly I realized that it was quite the opposite, in fact.

One meal in particular helped spur this epiphany. My housemates and I alternated making weekly dinners, so that at least one night a week we’d sit down at the table together for an extra-special meal. I began cooking vegan meals for my friends, not advertising the fact but just experimenting and enjoying the way my meals were appreciated by omnivores despite their lack of animal products. Ironically, though, the meal in question wasn’t cooked by me. It was made by my wonderful friend from Texas, my friend from the land of beef brisket and chicken fried steak. Although my housemates generally didn’t make vegan meals for their house dinners – I was still occasionally eating dairy and eggs then, although I never cooked them for myself –  my Texan amiga labored to make Isa’s Ancho Lentil Soup with Grilled Pineapple for us one cold winter night. I say “labored” because it was truly not an easy process for her; there was a mishap with a blender’s not-so-tightly-screwed-on bottom, and she had to make sure the soup was sufficiently spicy without overwhelming the delicate taste buds of our Wisconsinite housemate… that sort of thing. But she conquered adversity and served up a beautiful soup, complete with delicious pineapple rings topping the bowls.

As we sat in the living/dining room and slowly sipped our soup, my friend told us that she’d first tried the soup when she spent winter break on campus, working at the library. She had to stay in another house over the break, and thus met a real live vegan (!) who made this soup for a house dinner one night. My friend enjoyed it enough that she sought out the recipe once classes resumed and it was her turn to make dinner for us. Everyone enjoyed it, although my poor Wisconsinite thought it was slightly too spicy, despite all efforts to keep it tame. If any mention was made of the fact that it was a vegan soup from a vegan website, I don’t recall it. Mostly we just enjoyed our food.

I do recall, however, my friend coming into my room a couple of days before she was scheduled to make the dinner and saying that she needed to find a vegan soup recipe. I Googled it for her, and when it popped up on the PPK, I felt a strange blush growing on my face. It was an odd feeling, like my little secret had been found out. The PPK and all those vegan sites were mine! Nobody knew I was seriously considering veganism, and the fact that my Texan friend was sharing a chair with me and perusing PPK recipes seemed surreal and strange. But after we’d all shared that meal and enjoyed it, things suddenly seemed less strange and much clearer to me. Vegan food was delicious. Omnivores could eat it, enjoy it, and not have to think about the fact that it was vegan. Going vegan might not be so difficult, after all.

Although it took me a while after eating that meal to make the “official” switch, I still think of that Ancho Lentil Soup with fondness. It represents some sort of a turning point in my thoughts about becoming vegan, and it tastes damn good. So I made it for dinner tonight, to share with my wonderfully vegan-friendly family, and to warm me up on a chilly autumn evening.

As ever, the soup didn’t disappoint on any count. I didn’t photograph it as I was too hungry to get the camera, but maybe I’ll add a photo tomorrow – there’s about one serving left, and you can bet I’m going to thoroughly enjoy it for lunch tomorrow.

Curried Butternut Squash Soup

Tonight I conquered yet another taste aversion – butternut squash. Similar to my previous dislike of sweet potatoes, butternut squash has always been on my “do not want” list. My mom always used to make this apple, butternut squash, and raisin bake for dinner, and whenever she did, I’d find myself picking at the apple slices while avoiding the other two ingredients. It was that savory/sweet mix, y’know? Between that and its texture, squash is just something I prefer to avoid. Tonight, however, I decided that the indirect approach might be best – instead of eating squash face-on, in the flesh, I turned it into a soup, because I’ve never met a soup I didn’t like. Thus, Curried Butternut Squash Soup was born.

Yum.

While I don’t think I’m ready to conquer straight-up squash anytime soon, this soup has definitely helped give me an appreciation for this oddly shaped vegetable (fruit?). There’s something decidedly autumnal about this dish, and because curry-flavored anything is a sort of comfort food for me, it makes for a cozy type of meal. I’m not sure why I feel that way about curry; I didn’t grow up eating curries at all. I did, however, enjoy curry chips when I studied abroad in Ireland a few summers back; perhaps those memories have led to my pleasant associations with curry. Whatever the case, I really enjoyed the combination of the curry and squash flavors in this soup, and although the preparation of the butternut devil was a bit hellish, I’m willing to forgive it because the result is so darn yummy.

Curried Butternut Squash Soup
Ingredients (serves 3)
2 butternut squash, quartered and peeled
1 medium-sized yellow onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
~1.5 T olive oil
~2.5 cups vegetable broth
1 t curry powder
1/2 t cumin
1/4 t coriander
1/4 t cinnamon
dash cayenne

Preheat oven to 425˚ and spray a baking pan. Prepare butternut squash in your favorite way; you basically need them quartered and de-seeded. Place the quarters on pan and bake for about 35 minutes or until squash is tender.

Once squash has baked, remove it from oven and let cool. Heat up some olive oil in a large soup pot while you chop and mince the onion and garlic, respectively. Add to heated oil and cook until soft, then turn off the heat. Meanwhile, chop the baked squash into smaller pieces and add to blender with a fair amount of vegetable stock; puree the whole mixture. You’ll have to do this in batches, adding in the onion and garlic eventually. Once everything is pureed, return to the soup pot and add spices. Stir to mix, heat everything up, and then let simmer until serving time.

You can, of course, adjust your spices as necessary and adjust your blending process depending on what kind of kitchen appliances you have. I tried using an immersion blender after pureeing a small amount of the squash, but it really didn’t work that well. I’d imagine that a Vita-Mix would work excellently here, but alas – I am not lucky enough to have one (yet).

This is a super simple recipe, I know, but it’s quite tasty, if I do say so myself. My parents and I really enjoyed it, and I hope you will, too. :)