A variation on a theme, this soup is made easier by simply roasting the squash and scooping out the flesh rather than peeling and cutting and cooking it. It is a fairly simple dish, and is smooth enough to serve in cups to be sipped if you wish, or you could add substance to it by adding shrimp and/or some rice-even easier if you have some left over in the refrigerator. This soup can be made thicker and then double as a sauce for fish or on noodles with peppers and shrimp added to them.

INGREDIENTS:

1 medium-large Carnival, or other winter squash, enough to equal 4-6 cups of flesh, halved and roasted until tender (See recipe for Basic Roasted Winter Squash), dusted with a pinch of powdered garlic, cumin, and coriander seed before roasting, seeds saved and roasted*
1 medium white onion, or 2-3 medium leeks, white and palest greens, chopped finely
2 stalks celery, cleaned and trimmed of leaves, minced
1-2 cloves garlic, minced
1 can coconut milk
2-3 cups vegetable stock, as needed
½ tablespoon each cumin and coriander seed, ground to a powder
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
Salt and pepper to taste
Pinch of cayenne pepper (just enough to add warmth and flavor, but not so much you get real heat)
1/8th teaspoon ginger powder**
Rice or white balsamic vinegar if needed
Butter or neutral flavored oil as needed
Optional-Cilantro Oil
 

METHOD:

While the squash cools enough to handle it without burning yourself, heat a soup pot over medium heat. When hot, film with oil and heat. Cook the onions or leeks, and celery gently until they are tender, but do not allow them to color. Add the garlic and gently cook just to soften, but do not color.

As soon as the squash may be handled, scoop the flesh into a bowl.

Add the spices to the vegetables in the pot and stir until fragrant. Add the squash and stir together. Season with salt and pepper, then add the coconut milk and 2 cups of stock.

Bring to a simmer and stir. When heated, transfer the soup to a blender and carefully pureé. You can use a wand mixer to puree the soup, or very carefully puree in a blender (Fill the blender only 2/3rds full and cover the top with a towel and start on low speed. BE CAREFUL! The soup expands and can blow out under the lid spraying hot soup on you.)

Taste the soup. If it is too thick, thin it out with more stock. If it tastes “flat”, add a few drops of vinegar to wake the soup up. Only add a few drops at a time to avoid over-doing it. If the spices need it, add more, using restraint. You can always add more, but once in you can’t get them out, and the flavor takes time to bloom and marry with the other ingredients if you do not add them to the oil at the beginning.

Ladle the soup into bowls or cups and drizzle with a little cilantro oil the roasted seeds chopped up, and serve hot.

Chef’s Notes: * The seeds are roasted here to be used as a garnish for the soup, but you can skip this. **Although I usually prefer fresh ginger, dried ginger powder has a different flavor that is appropriate here in combination with the other spices. If you wish, you can add a cup or two of rice to the soup after it has been pureed, and then add some shrimp to it as well. Get shrimp that are cooked, or add raw shrimp to the soup and get simmer for 8-10 minutes to cook the shrimp. If you feel up to it and have shrimp with shells, make shrimp shell oil and use it in lieu of, or with the cilantro oil.

Serves: 4

Source: Chef Andrew E Cohen

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