So fall is my very favourite time of year, hands down. It's something about the smell of rain and dirt and falling leaves mixed with the fact that I can wear as many sweaters and cute scarves as I feel like. Doesn't get better than that. So, in honour of autumn, which has settled on Victoria in all her blustery golden glory, I thought I would share my butternut squash/pumpkin soup recipe with you. You really can't go wrong with this soup - just about any vegetable can be added to it, though the non-green ones are generally best. It can easily be a completely vegan meal. It's simple, easy, filling, smells divine, and is a great use of all the cheap winter squash that's in season right now. Oh and it's really freaking delicious. Hope you like it!

Curry-Coconut Squash Soup

Serves: at least 6 meal sized portions, most likely more (depending on size of vegetables).

1 large pie pumpkin or ½ medium carving pumpkin or 1 large butternut squash

1 – 2 yams

2 carrots, peeled

1 red pepper, cut the top off and pull out the stem, seeds and whitish bits

1 large onion, chopped

2 large potatoes, chopped

1 granny smith apple, cored and chopped

1 - 2 boxes chicken/beef/vegetable stock (homemade is, of course, best, if you have some on hand)

3 cloves garlic, grated (or finely minced if you don't have a microplane or garlic press)

2 tsp fresh ginger, grated or finely minced

2 tsp medium curry powder

3 cardamom pods (optional)

Cayenne pepper, nutmeg, cinnamon, cloves (ground), salt and pepper, to taste

1 tin coconut milk

Maple syrup, to taste

1. Heat the oven to 350°

2. Cut Squash in half (or half of pumpkin into 2 quarters) removing all seeds and pulp, place on cookie sheet cut side down, put on centre rack of oven.

3. After 40 minutes, add the yams to the baking sheet. After another 30 minutes add the carrots. After another 10 add the red pepper (cut side down). Bake for 15-20 more minutes.

4. Remove vegetables from oven, and let cool enough that you can handle them without being burned.

5. Peel the squash and yams (a knife works better than a peeler for this) and the red pepper (the skin should just slip off). Cut roasted veggies into bite sized pieces, then throw all the vegetables, roasted and otherwise into a very large pot.

6. Add the stock to the pot. You want it to almost cover the vegetables. If it doesn’t, add some water.

7. Add grated garlic, grated ginger, curry powder, cayenne, nutmeg, cinnamon, cloves, and cardamom pods (if desired).

Note: if you are unsure how much of each spice you want, start small and add more

before serving. Cloves and nutmeg should be added sparingly.

8. Bring to a boil, lower heat and simmer with the lid on for 30-40 minutes.

9. Remove from heat, fish out cardamom pods (if used) and use an immersion blender to puree entire contents of pot. You could also puree it, in batches, in a blender.

Beware: agitating hot liquids releases sudden bursts of steam and will raise the lid of your

blender and shoot soup all over you and the kitchen (it hurts and is embarrassing - ask me

how I know). If you do try using the blender, cool the soup first, use the slowest setting

and hold the lid down tight while wearing oven mitts!

10. Return the soup to the pot. Add coconut milk. Add extra spices if necessary. Add a drizzle of maple syrup, taste for sweetness, and add more if necessary. It won't take much. Heat to serving temperature.

11. Serve! Garnish with anything that takes your fancy - sprinkled spices, fresh herbs, a thin apple slice, even a (well washed) autumn leaf would be lovely.

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