Spicy Squash/Pumpkin Soup

March 10, 2014: The grocery story in town was featuring squash on sale for 22 pesos per kilo (roughly 50 cents) this week, so it seemed like a good time to make some squash soup. Now depending on how close your ties are to Britain, you may call this pumpkin soup. To me, a pumpkin is what you carve on hallowe’en and squash is the broader family that includes pumpkins, acorn squash, buttercup squash, spaghetti squash, pattipans, zucchini and on and on. But I’ll admit, spicy pumpkin soup sounds more exotic, so I can go either way.

I actually had the produce guy cut one in half for me, so I wouldn’t be stuck for days and days ad infinitum eating the same thing over and over. Try finding a produce person to do that for you in Canada!

This recipe is a hybrid of several I found online once I got my squash back on board. MOKEN’s galley is not big but it’s functional. There just isn’t a lot of counter space. So I like easy recipes that don’t require a lot of fuss or cleanup but still taste good. This one fits the bill.

It being hot, I didn’t feel like turning on the oven to roast the squash and the garlic, so I stuck it in the microwave instead. Much easier to scoop out the flesh after cooking than peeling first. I even got to use my handy new Kitchenaid hand blender (that I lugged with me from Canada after Christmas) to achieve a half smooth, half rustic texture.

Serve hot preferably with fresh sourdough bread, unless of course you’re on a paleo kick. I went back for seconds.

Makes four small bowls or two to three large bowls. That’s enough to feed six Filipinos. Just kidding! But a lot of restaurants here do say their dishes are good for 2-3 people, when they are really more like one single American portion that I can almost finish all by myself!

Ingredients & Directions:

1/2 large winter squash This works best with the thicker walled winter squashes. I think I used Kabocha squash. Remove seeds, roast ahead of time in oven or microwave, scoop out flesh and set aside.
Oil or butter for sautéing Heat oil in a large pot over medium high heat.
1 onion Chop roughly and sauté in oil/butter until translucent.
2-3 cloves of garlic Roasted or raw (or both). If using raw cloves, mince finely and add to onions in pot. If using roasted garlic, no need to chop. Just add closer to the end.
1 T fresh ginger Mince finely and add to onions in pot.
2-3 sticks of celery Chop roughly and add to onions in pot. Include the leaves for extra flavour.
Squash cubes Add to pot once celery partially cooked.
1 tomato Chop roughly. Add to pot.
1-2 T tomato paste Add to pot.
2-3 cups water Add more if you want thinner soup, less if you like thick soup.
2 vegetable stock cubes Add to pot. If using canned stock, reduce amount of water.
1 can of lentils Drain and rinse. Add to pot.
1 T curry powder Add to pot. Use premixed curry powder for convenience, or make you own blend for more authentic flavour and freshness. Bring soup to a boil, stirring frequently. Reduce heat. Once everything is well cooked, about 15-20 minutes, remove from stove and blend with hand blender or food processor until it reaches a texture you like.
1/2 – 1 cup of cooking cream Return to stove and add cream. Stir in well. Use more or less to your liking. Can substitute with yoghurt, sour cream, whipping cream, crème fraiche, half and half or coconut milk. Or leave it out altogether if you prefer, but it won’t be quite as yummy. Drizzle or spoon some into each bowl when serving. Here’s where the small UHT packages of cooking cream come in really handy on a boat. They’re shelf stable for months and only need to be refrigerated after opening.
Salt & pepper (optional) I don’t add to the pot during cooking as the stock is salty. Individual servings can be seasoned afterwards to each person’s liking.
Parsley (optional) Have some chopped fresh parsley on hand for garnish.
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