It’s now the time of the year for squash’s and Fall veggies. I recently found a recipe from Mango Tomato for Curry butternut squash soup with coconut milk and decided it was time for my first delicious Fall soup. I have one rule about cooking from a recipe: I never EVER do it exactly the same, even the first time, I always add at least one or two “personal” ingredients. What I mean by “personal” is either I made it myself from an older recipe or something I add for zing or flair – in other words, I always try to make the recipe my own. The “personal” ingredient was homemade vegetable broth, but the zing item was peanut butter – actually crunchy peanut butter from Mackey’s Ferry in North Carolina – I actually picked it up on a road trip when I saw a sign on the highway for “boiled peanuts” – another treat that you’ve gotta try, a very addictive food!
I’ll keep my conclusions short, but I wanted to thicken the original recipe a bit, and normally that would mean adding cream or half and half to the mixture – I didn’t have any. Once I began to smell the coconut milk, the curry (which I make myself “based” on a Mark Bittman recipe, but I spice it up with cayenne), the sugar (I store left over vanilla pods in a sugar container) and the squashes cooking, I kept thinking..hmm, peanut butter is so natural in Thai food, why wouldn’t it work here with all these Asian flavors? I only had chunky peanut butter – of course you could use smooth, but I’ll tell you what – the little pieces of chunky peanuts at the bottom of each bowl of soup I served to myself was decadently good! You could adjust this recipe in so many ways such as using brown sugar instead of vanilla sugar, or even skipping the sugar – there was no sugar in the original recipe. I think the secret to this recipe is to keep it simple and make it your own, but don’t forget to thicken it with something to create a little contrast to the squash – creme fraiche or cream would do the job nicely, but peanut butter was fantastic. Also, did you ever notice how once you open a container of peanut butter, it generally just sits around..I say make peanut butter the new secret ingredient, maybe it can even give bacon a run for the money?
And what would I drink with this? Well, I always drink wine with the meal, I immediately think of an off-dry riesling, but a rustic red like Sangiovese does just fine. You could also go with Scotch – but here’s an additional thought – if you want to make the dish “smokier”, you could add a smoked chipotle pepper and this would make the dish work better with Bourbon or other “smoky” spirits..
Another By the Way..don’t forget to roast the squash seeds with a little salt and spices – I through on some of the curry powder for a treat later..
This recipe is adjusted from Mango & Tomato –
1 butternut squash (small to medium)
1/2 an acorn squash
1/2 a large vidalia onion cut in 4 pieces
1 cup coconut milk
4 cups vegetable broth
salt & pepper to taste
1 1/2 Tablespoons curry powder
1/2 cup vanilla sugar
1/2 cup of chunky peanut butter
blue cheese for garnish
1. Scoop out the seeds from butternut squash and acorn squash and roast at 400 degrees for an hour.
2. Meanwhile, either together or separately (I have a smaller toaster oven as well) roast the onions with a little oil at around 350 degrees for 30-45 minutes until they start to caramelize.
3. Once the butternut squash and acorn squash are tender, scoop it out from the skin and drop it into a blender. Add the caramelized onion to the blender as well.
4. Pour all the ingredients from the blender into a pot and add coconut milk and vegetable broth and season with spices, salt & pepper. Heat at medium and when bubbles begin to form, swirl peanut butter into the soup.
5. Adjust the seasonings, and cook on medium-low for 15-20 minutes – it’s ready.
6. Either serve just like this or garnish each soup bowl with blue cheese.
Charlie “I Drink on the Job” Adler