For the first two entries of this edition of Indian Home Cooking Week I’ve posted two fairly traditional parts of a Bengali meal. This third entry is neither traditional nor Bengali. It is my take on non-Indian roasted squash soups with Indian flavours and techniques. It is very easy to make and I think you will like it a lot—it’s a great winter soup. You can serve it as part of a multi-course meal (Indian or otherwise) or just have a big bowl of it as a standalone meal. It could even probably work as a sauce for fish along with rice. The possibilities are endless. By which I mean that there are at least three possibilities.
- Butternut squash—a little over 6 lbs, uncut
- About 2 heaped tablespoons of crushed ginger
- 2 tablespoons cumin seeds
- 1 tablespoon coriander seeds
- Curry leaves, 3 sprigs worth
- 5-8 dried red chillies
- 1 teaspoon black mustard seeds
- 8 cups chicken stock (or vegetable stock)
- 2 cups coconut milk
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- Salt to taste
Preparation (see illustrated guide below)
- Preheat oven to 400ºF.
- Cut the squash in half and scoop out the seeds and pulp.
- Line a baking sheet with foil and roast the squash for about 1 hour.
- While the squash is roasting crush the ginger and lightly roast the cumin and coriander seeds in a skillet over medium heat (just so that they darken and become fragrant).
- Grind the roasted cumin and coriander seeds to a coarse powder.
- Once the squash is roasted and cool enough to work with, peel it (or scoop the flesh out).
- Put the roasted squash in a large bowl and mash it with a potato masher.
- Heat the oil in a large pot and add the ginger.
- Saute the ginger for about 30 seconds, lower the heat to medium and add the ground spices.
- Stir for another minute or so and add the mashed roasted squash. Mix well.
- Add the stock, mix well, add salt, bring to a boil and simmer, covered for about 30-40 minutes.
- Working in batches, transfer the soup to a blender, puree to an even, velvety consistency and return it to the pot.
- Add the coconut milk, stir it in and simmer for another 10 minutes or so.
- While the soup is simmering heat a tablespoon of oil in a small skillet and add the mustard seeds, curry leaves and dried red chillies. Stir continuously and as soon as the mustard seeds start popping vigorously dump the contents of the pan into the soup and stir them in.
- I made a double batch here (we have a lot of squash from our CSA—the excellent Open Hands farm—to use up before it goes bad) and froze half. You can simply halve the recipe if you don’t want to make as much. I used butternut squash as that’s what we have most left of—you can use any similar squash that you prefer.
- As always I recommend using Aroy-D’s 100% coconut milk over the more cloying stuff in cans. It turns out you can buy it from Amazon (no, I don’t make any money from the link).
- You could use an immersion blender to puree/blend the soup, I suppose, but you do need to puree it thoroughly—you don’t want fibrous bits of ginger in the final soup.
- The chillies at the end don’t add too much heat as they don’t really cook in the soup; but they do add a nice contrasting colour to the finished soup. If you are worried about the heat go with milder chillies.
- I guess that with the coconut milk and the “tadka” of curry leaves, mustard seeds and chillies at the end this could be seen as incorporating Malayali/Kerala flavours in particular.