Sunday, October 30, 2011

indian style pumpkin soup with coconut milk

Hello. Is it soup you're looking for?

I think that anyone over the age of 30 (or anyone who really really loves the internet) can guess the soundtrack to our weekend. Yes, we listened to "Hello" all weekend and we carved a Lionel Richie pumpkin. There were a few tense moments, but we pulled it off with a paper stencil, some packing tape, a safety pin and a dull paring knife. Can I claim credit for moral support?

Of course I began thinking of ways that I could possibly showcase his work of art at Unhip Squirrel, so I made pumpkin soup. It doesn't really matter that I used an old mystery squash I picked up when we went apple picking. Pumpkins are squashes. It was a lateral move. Besides, Adam and I made a bet... he bet that the squash would go bad on our counter and we'd have to throw it away. I rise to challenges like these because I have a proud streak, so I used the squash. Two birds, one stone.

The thing about soup is that it wills itself to look ugly in photographs. In order to overcome this, you have a PhD in soup styling and/or an exquisite selection of fine dishes to suit any occasion (neither of which I have). It likes to just lay back, smooth and featureless, and reflect off of your light source. Needless to say, the soup photo got second billing to Lionel, but don't let that deter you from making it. Seriously. I never knew that soup could be so exciting.

The texture is silky and the spices gave it a bit more of an exotic flavour than your standard pumpkin soup. It was ridiculous before I added the coconut milk (so if it's not your thing, consider it optional) but once I stirred it in, the soup totally leveled up and gained a whole new dimension of flavour. It was warm and comforting, perfect for a crisp autumn day - especially one in -2ºC Montreal!

indian style pumpkin soup with coconut milk
Adapted from How to Cook Everything Vegetarian by Mark Bittman 

2 tbsp butter
1 tbsp freshly grated ginger
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp curry powder
1 medium onion, chopped
3 lbs sugar pumpkin or other winter squash (this is approx. one medium squash), peeled and in a 1-2" dice
4 cups vegetable stock
1 cup coconut milk
salt, to taste

In a heavy pot, melt butter on medium-high heat and add the ginger, garlic and curry powder. Throw in your onions and sautee for a until they begin to soften, then add your pumpkin. Toss to distribute the spices a bit, then add 1 cup of vegetable stock and toss again. Put a lid on the pot and let it sit for about 10 minutes, tossing every few minutes.

Add the other three cups of vegetable stock and cook, uncovered, until it reaches a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and allow to simmer until the pumpkin is very soft and comes apart easily with a wooden spoon.

Allow to cool for about 15 minutes, then purée the soup in a blender or food processor and return to the pot. Add coconut milk and bring it back to a simmer.  Serve garnished with chopped cilantro and green onions.

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