Did you see the snow fall? Dropping like powdered sugar and melting atop the hot pot of earth? Did you think you’d ever battle with your senses to comprehend a white Halloween? Where did the black and orange go? Autumn reds and golds popping out between the scattered brilliance of white.
Of course it really isn’t like that. This hushed snow won’t last very long at all; it barely survives the journey down before mottled grass steams it back to the sky. But it is quite an enchantment to combine the spirits of Halloween with ghostly white. I’m actually not a huge fan of Halloween to be honest. It’s ridiculous the kind of spectacle it has become (and I won’t even bother discussing the vapid and barely-there costumes that are a cultural mainstay of our oh-so-brilliant society) but I do respect the history behind it, the whispers of people past that are remembered, and… well, a fun and haunting corn maze or two. Plus, it’s aaaaalllll about pumpkin for me. Pumpkin pie, pumpkin bread, pumpkin seeds, pumpkin pumpkin pumpkin!!
But today is not about this most glorious orange fruit, but its cousin… the butternut squash.
I hardly venture to new fruits and veggies when I know the husband doesn’t take a particular liking to it—and butternut squash has never met kindly with his palate. However, I was simply craving soup! You see what kind of wintry gusts of winsome weather are rolling in now, how can one resist a decadent sumptuous and savory soup on a cold October evening??
Besides, I took it down a familiar route for the husband, making a beautiful curried medley of flavor. As far as my quick research revealed, the two primary directions with this kind of soup are the traditional pumpkin spice route (thus rendering it almost dessert-like in my opinion, oh I love pumpkin pie!) or a curry flavor. I had made coconut curry with butternut squash once, so I can see how those flavors do combine well. And with a soup, the entire thing is blended into a smooth creamy consistency, thus removing any discomfort one may have with this texture of the squash. Plus, I added my own touch because leaving it a simple creamy soup wasn’t enough—so what matches better than curried tofu and peppers? For us, nothing else would do. J
So I embarked! I tend not to use chicken broth these days by the way for two reasons: never know when a certain chicken flavor will be too strong for the husband to swallow (literally) and the bouillon cubes I buy, whether chicken or vegetable flavored, have added MSG which seems to bring about headaches in this household. So I simply used water, but for your sake be aware you can use a broth instead. Or make homemade broth even, if you have the time.
- 1 butternut squash, cubed (I cheated this time, I admit, as I found already diced squash at the store)
- 4 large garlic cloves
- 1 yellow onion, diced
- 6 curry leaves
- 2 tsp curry powder
- 1 tsp chili powder
- 2 tsp lime
- Black pepper
- 5 cups of water
- Firm tofu, diced in cubes
- 1 green bell pepper, chopped large
- Curry powder
- Chili flakes
Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Fill a baking pan with the cubed squash, sprinkling over with olive oil and salt. Also add in the large garlic cloves (unpeeled). Cover the pan with foil and roast in the oven for about 30 minutes, or longer. (I’ve also just placed an entire pod of garlic in the oven, wrapped in foil, to roast. Once removed, the full pod is soft, moist, and with such a subtle garlic flavor that I could just eat that alone with some pita bread.)In a large pot, begin gently sauteing the onions while the squash is roasting. You want to render them soft and nearly melted, so a slow flame over the course of the 30 minutes is a perfect combination. About 10 minutes in, add the curry leaves and continue to cook.
After 30 minutes, check your squash—it should be soft entirely through. If you still have a little toughness or resistance, leave it in a little longer, but it shouldn’t take longer than 40 minutes total. Once done, remove from the oven. VERY CAREFULLY remove the garlic first (it will be hot so please be mindful; use a spoon or tongs if needed) and lightly peel and squeeze the softened garlic cloves into the pot with the onions. Next, pour the butternut squash and any liquid that seeped out into the pot as well, making sure not to splash.
Add the curry powder, chili powder, lime, and desired amount of salt and pepper. As always fudge around with the quantities you like. I kept it a little milder because I was adding the tofu as well and wanted to make sure the butternut flavor was not entirely overpowered. Combine well, adding the water (or broth if you desire) and bringing to a slow boil. Reduce to a simmer, cover and let cook for a few minutes.
Separately, prepare the additions in the simplest way possible really. Toss the tofu in a little curry powder, salt and pepper. In a frying pan begin frying the green pepper chunks on medium heat. After 5 minutes, add the tofu, and generously add more curry powder and chili flakes as you desire. Make sure to keep the heat between medium and low, the peppers should soften enough but retain a slight crunch, and the tofu should crisp up on all sides. Once done, set aside.
Check the soup: the squash should be mostly degenerated into a fleshy pulp intermingling with the onions and garlic. Now if you have an immersion blender this will be easy for you; if not you’ll have to do as I do and let the pot cool down enough before adding it to your blender. Remove the curry leaves and then blend the soup however you can (I did it in 3 batches so I wouldn’t overfill my blender). Pour back into the pot, check the flavor (adding whatever you think it needs) and warm back up. It’s ready to serve!
You can now either add the tofu and peppers directly into the pot, or as I did, serve a bowl of soup and top it off with some veggies before serving. Your choice! Either way, I hope this warms up your cold rainy evening.