Monday, October 31, 2011

Recipe: Halloween Soup

I'm calling it that because this soup is orange to the power of three. Buttercup squash, carrots, and sweet potatoes. It's also freakishly healthy and hearty and full of fiber, with no added sugar (basically the opposite of that other standard Halloween fare—candy). I tried a new-to-me method of preparing the squash, since buttercups (they look like knobbly, smallish, dark green pumpkins) aren't built for peeling and cubing. Baking them takes longer and creates more dirty dishes, but the result makes it so worth it.

Hot damn, just look at that color! For NOM!
You'll need:

1 buttercup squash
2 large sweet potatoes (or 3 medium ones)
¼ stick butter
3 large carrots
5 cloves garlic
1 large onion
¼ tsp. cinnamon
½ tsp. cayenne pepper
lots of ground black pepper
lots of cumin or curry powder
1 qt. water
lots of salt

1. Preheat oven to 350° and lightly grease the bottom of a casserole dish.

2. Cut the squash into quarters with a cleaver or similarly big, dangerous knife. I found this physically challenging, so be careful, go slow, and don't slice a finger off. Scoop out the seeds and arrange the squash in the dish, skin-down.

3. Cut the sweet potatoes into ½-inch thick rounds and arrange those with the squash. Bake for about an hour, or until the squash and sweet potatoes are tender when poked with a fork.

4. While that's baking, melt the butter in the stew pot. Cut the carrots into strips or fairly thin medallions. Peel and chop the garlic. Chop the onion. Add all that to the butter, turning at medium-high heat until the onions are soft and clear (a couple minutes).

5. Switch the veggies to low heat and add the cinnamon, ground peppers, and cumin. Stir, then cover the pot and let simmer until the carrots are soft (20 minutes or more), stirring occasionally.

6. Once the squash and sweet potatoes are soft, remove them from the oven and let them cool for a half hour or so, until you can touch them without burning yourself. Allegedly, you can now peel the skin away from the squash, but I found this difficult, as the skin flaked off in uselessly small, messy bits. Instead, I used a large metal spoon to scoop and scrape the squash flesh from the skin. Dump that in the pot with the carrots et al. You can peel the skins from the sweet potatoes as well, but I left them on, for texture and nutrients. Add those to the pot as well.

7. Now that all the formerly hard ingredients are soft, bust out your blender. Combine the ingredients with the water in the blender and purée in however many batches it takes. Once it's all blended, dump it all back in the stew pot and stir it up.

8. Heat the soup (it sputters, so baby-sit it) and add salt to taste. Freezes well…not that you'll have any leftovers. It's crazy-tasty.

Enjoy! And happy Halloween!

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