Tuesday, February 8, 2011
New Zealand Blue Squash Soup with Coconut Milk
After about twenty minutes of splitting, seeding and scraping, Squash A had established a fierce, gnarly dominance over the entire cookie sheet.
Whereupon I went outside to my trusty concrete squash-bashing patio and, with a hammer, broke a coconut into pieces, having already drained its liquid. Half an hour later I had, at great risk to myself, picked and pried the coconut meat from the shell with a sharp knife. I had Googled "coconut milk Champion juicer" to find out if I could make my own coconut milk. Yes!
Half an hour later, I had the coconut milk, some lovely shreddy, tasty coconut pulp, and a spectacularly splashed and coconut-speckled kitchen. I then began on the soup.
Some may think I spend too much time cooking. They would not think so after one taste of this sublime soup. Freshly-roasted, densely flavorful squash ... delicately flavored coconut milk ... the sweetest hint of pungent spices ... the tiny crackle of crunchy coriander seed ... do try it!
NEW ZEALAND BLUE SQUASH SOUP WITH COCONUT MILK
Adapted from Lentil Breakdown
You could use butternut or other flavorful squash, or pumpkin. You could also use pre-ground spices. Depending on how freshly ground they are, you may wish to adjust amounts. I decided a splash of lime before serving would provide a nice counterpoint.
2- to 3-lb. or so New Zealand Blue or other squash of choice, or pumpkin (to total 4 cups of cooked, mashed squash)
Olive oil or butter
1 tablespoon butter
1 large onion, diced
1 knob ginger, 1" or so square, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon cumin seed
1 teaspoon coriander seed
1/4 teaspoon cardamom seed
1 teaspoon salt
4 cups water or vegetable or chicken broth (I used chicken broth)
1 14-oz can coconut milk, or 1-1/2 cups labor-intensive homemade coconut milk
Juice of 1/2 lime
Cilantro sprigs (optional)
Heat oven to 400 degrees. Cut the squash or pumpkin into manageable-sized pieces. Scrape out seeds. A serrated ice cream scoop works great for this. Lavishly oil or butter the cut squash surfaces, and place them on a foil-covered cookie sheet. Roast, checking occasionally for doneness, about an hour and half. The squash should have carmelized in places. Remove, cool a bit, and scrape cooked squash (make sure to get all the carmelized bits in!) into a bowl. You should have about 4 cups of cooked squash.
Crush cumin, coriander and cardamom seeds roughly in a mortar and pestle.
In large pot or Dutch oven, melt 1 tablespoon butter and saute the onions in it until they begin to soften. Add ginger and garlic, and cook a bit more. Scatter spices over, and stir, letting the mixture cook a few minutes until it is redolent with spice scent.
Stir in salt, broth and coconut milk, and simmer 20 to 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Taste, and add seasoning to your liking. Depending on your squash's absorbency, you may need to add broth or water.
Puree the soup. I used an immersion blender right in the pot to puree the soup, though I didn't puree it to absolute smoothness ... I like a little intrigue in cream soups. You could also transfer it to a blender in batches.
Stir the lime juice into the hot soup just before serving. Garnish with cilantro, a sprinkling of coconut, a curl or two of lime peel ... this soup, from beginning to garnish, is very open to adjustment to your personal taste.
Makes 8 generous servings.