Monday, January 3, 2011

Meatless Monday* - Curry Butternut Squash Soup

Do you ever daydream about food? Well, I do. But because I'm a big food nerd, I don't daydream about chocolate or mac & cheese. For about a month, I've been thinking about curry butternut squash soup. I'd never had it before, and I didn't have a recipe for it -- it just sounded like a great idea.

And it's exactly the sort of thing to start off the New Year: healthy and sustainable. The big secret, however, is that even though it will help you keep both your health and green resolutions, you'll feel as though you're still eating decadent holiday fare.

This soup is a mash-up of several different recipes, and has a velvety, rich texture due to the fact that you add pureed butternut squash and yogurt. The puree adds a robustness that makes you forget that this food is vegetarian.

Curry Butternut Squash Soup


1 tbsp. olive oil
1 onion, chopped
4 cloves of garlic, minced
1-2 stalks of celery, chopped
2 tbsp. curry powder
1 medium-large butternut squash. Cut off the top third and hold on to it -- you're going to use it in a minute. Peel, de-seed, and cube the remaining 2/3.
1 red or yellow pepper, chopped
Red chili flakes, pepper, salt, or other spices you desire
1/3 c. plain or Greek yogurt (skip this if you'd like to make a vegan version)
1 tsp. ground ginger
1 tsp. brown sugar
32 oz. container of vegetable broth
1/3 c. basmati or brown basmati rice
Bay leaf
1/3-1/2 c. dried currants

Toasted, slivered almonds

Step 1
Cut the top third of the squash into large rounds, about an inch thick, and put on a plate. Place these in the microwave and cook until soft, about 5-8 minutes. Don't overcook. (You could bake these if you don't have a microwave. Ahem, Mom.) Set aside.

Step 2
On medium-high heat, heat the olive oil in a big soup pot. Add the onions, garlic, and celery. Saute until transparent. Add curry powder and saute about 1 min. more, stirring.

Step 3
Add the cubed butternut squash and yellow pepper. Season with red pepper flakes, salt and pepper. Reduce heat to medium and saute about 10 min, or until the veggies begin to soften.

Step 4
Scoop out the soft insides of the squash you cooked in the microwave. Put this in a blender, along with the yogurt, ginger, and brown sugar. Puree. Add a little of the vegetable broth if you need more liquid.

Step 5
Add the puree, along with 2-2 1/2 cups of the vegetable broth to the pot. Stir. Add rice and bay leaf. When the mixture is boiling, cover and reduce heat to low. Simmer about 20-30 min, or until the rice is soft and the liquid is reduced by about half.

Step 6
Add the remaining broth and currants. Stir. Keep over heat until heated through.

Serve with the garnishes and enjoy.

* Meatless Monday is a movement to increase awareness of sustainable, meat-free eating, by eating meatless meals on Mondays. So alliterative!

** Of course, your meal will be more sustainable the more organic and local choices you make in your ingredients

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