Fall is definitely here. It is cold when I leave for work in the morning and brisk in the shade when I am heading home. This makes dressing for my bike commute a little tricky, but you know what makes it all worth it…soup. It is fall and I finally get to eat soup again. I love good soups, but let’s face it summer in the southwest in not soup eating temperature. Yes, yes I know there are cold soups, but they never have the velvety smoothness of a good fall squash soup or the flavor complexity you get from simmering said soup with an aromatic bouquet of rich dark spices. Frankly, most cold soups just taste like a turbo charged salsa too me. Refreshing yes…comforting not so much.
This week M made us a butternut squash soup. The dish, based on of a recipe from Well Fed by Melissa Joulwan. For those not familiar with her recipes, get familiar. Melissa is not afraid to take her recipes to the point of a wonderful explosion of flavor with her use of spices. If you can not tell, I love her use of spices. Many paleo recipes, and many more American foods are bland. I use the term American lightly, America is a diverse country, but what gets touted as American food is far from diverse. I am talking about recipes that shy away from using more than salt, pepper, and sugar. Spices are what makes food melt in your mouth as your nose takes in the amazing smells.
Melissa’s new book Well Fed 2 is available for download on her website. For those who want one in print it will be released Oct 22, 2013.
Okay enough talking, let’s get to cooking.
Well Fed’s Velvety Butternut Squash (Soup)
What you need:
2.5 ~ 3 pounds of butternut squash
2 tablespoons of water
1 head of garlic
2 pounds of boneless, skinless chicken (breasts of thighs)
3-4 tsp Ras el Hanout (You can buy this at Whole Foods if you don’t feel like making your own spice blend)
3 cups of chicken stock (or a little more)
2 tablespoons of coconut milk
1 tablespoons of coconut oil
Fresh ground pepper
How to do it:
Bake the squash at 350 degrees for 40 – 50 minutes.
Prepare the squash by cutting it in half lengthwise, and placing it face down on a baking sheet (or a glass dish) with parchment paper. Sprinkle the water onto the paper around the squash. Next, prepare the garlic by removing its papery outside. Wrap the garlic in aluminum foil and place it in the oven next to the squash.
Once tender, remove the squash and garlic from the oven and set aside until you can handle them safely. 15-20 minutes should do.
While the squash is cooling…
Pre-heat a cast iron skillet on medium heat. Pre-heating the pan before you add the oil helps seal the pan’s surface making it less likely that your food will stick.
While the pan is warming up liberally season the chicken with salt and pepper.
Add the coconut oil to the warm pan. Once the oil is warm add the seasoned chicken. Cook for about 10 minutes then turn the chicken over and cook another 10 minutes. Remove the chicken once it is fully cooked and allow it to rest on a cutting board for 5-10 minutes. Once the chicken is cool enough to handle, shred the chicken. You can use two forks to shred the chicken by using one fork to hold the chicken steady and the other to scrape the chicken into small shredded pieces. I prefer to slice the chicken into pieces and with clean hands pull the pieces apart, but that is just me.
Okay, back to the squash…
Scoop out that beautiful orange flesh and purée the squash and the garlic in a food processor.
Take the purée and transfer to a soup pot, adding the chicken stock, seasonings and coconut milk. Add more or less stock depending on how think/thin you prefer your soup. At the end, stir in the shredded chicken.
You can add parsley or chopped pecans if you’re feeling fancy.
This made 6 servings.
Melissa comments in the book this recipe could work with many of the winter squashes. I am thinking velvety pumpkin soup is next.