Saturday, November 29, 2014

Moroccan Butternut Squash Soup

Bowl of Garnished Moroccan Soup
Swirled with Spicy Oil, Topped with Raisins and Cilantro

Recipe by Melinda’s friend

I love everything about my new job, even the fact that it cuts down on the amount of time that I have for blogging. What better job for a writer than library aide: juggling books, lifting, shelving, pushing carts, reaching, bending and generally getting off one’s duff and away from the screen? Also, there’s constant exposure to great (and not so great) literature for inspiration. Even better, Melinda, my new coworker, is cheerful, smart, and an amazing cook. Her version of butternut soup has a spicy kick to it, along with chunky interest provided by chickpeas, bell peppers, and not-pulverized butternut. The spicy olive oil and golden raisins garnishes add yet more flavor. Since my husband is ho-hum about any super-smooth, creamy, bland soup, this kicked-up, texture-rich squash soup became an instant family favorite at my house.

Topping Swirl Spices: Paprika, Curry, Chili, Cayenne
All this, Plus Ginger, Coriander, and Cumin too!
Cook your own chickpeas to minimize costs and maximize flavor, or use canned for convenience. The amounts of ingredients needn’t be exact, and can vary based upon the size of the butternut as well as the amount of onion, green pepper and chickpeas that you have on hand. You can adjust not only the amount of spices, but also the time at which you add them to the soup. In particular, ginger will mellow out considerably if simmered for the entire 30 minutes. Add the ginger, and other spices if you like, at the 15-minute mark for stronger, less blended flavor. Be sure to use fresh spices for full spicy impact.

Moroccan Soup with a little Spicy Oil, and no cilantro
Go Lightly on the Toppings if you Prefer
When in the cooking process you add the yogurt affects the texture and taste of the soup. Unlike most recipes, this one says to simmer the yogurt for 30 minutes along with other ingredients. This results in a more blended, “cooked down” soup. For a somewhat creamier soup, stir in the yogurt after simmering the soup, then bring the soup back to just below a simmer before serving.

The garnishes are optional, but recommended. Hope you’re enjoying your Thanksgiving weekend. Much appreciation to all Seasonal Eating readers!

Spicy Oil, Cilantro, Golden Raisins
Choose Your Toppings
Moroccan Butternut Squash Soup
serves 6 - 8

1 butternut squash, ~1.5 - 2 lbs.
2 tsp. olive oil
1 cup chopped onion or leek (1 medium)
½ cup chopped celery
½ cup green pepper
1 clove garlic, minced
2 cups chicken or veggie broth
1½ - 2 cups canned or cooked chickpeas
1 cup yogurt
1 tbsp. lemon juice
2 tsp. grated ginger
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. ground coriander
½ tsp. salt
¼ tsp. ground black pepper

½ tsp. paprika
½ tsp. curry powder
½ tsp. chili powder
¼ - ½ tsp. cayenne pepper
1 tbsp. olive oil
~1½ cup golden raisins
Chopped cilantro

Peel and seed butternut squash. Cut into chunks and steam until tender, about 20 minutes. Mash with potato masher. but leave it somewhat chunky. You will have about 4 cups.

Heat 2 tsp. olive oil over medium heat in a deep soup pot. Sauté onion, celery, green pepper, and garlic until tender, stirring frequently, about 3 – 5 minutes.

Add butternut squash and chicken or veggie broth.

Stir together yogurt, lemon juice, ginger, cumin, coriander, salt, and pepper. Stir into soup.

Add cooked or canned chickpeas to soup.

Bring soup to simmer and simmer for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, prepare the garnishes:

In a small bowl stir together paprika, curry powder, chili powder, and cayenne pepper. Add 1 tbsp. olive oil and stir to combine thoroughly.

To serve the soup, ladle into bowls and swirl spiced oil on top. Garnish with golden raisins and cilantro.

Soup Pot with Butternut, Leeks, Celery, and Green Peppers
It Starts with Butternut and Aromatics
Soup Pot with Garbanzos just Added
Next: Garbanzos, Spices, and Yogurt

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