Moroccan Curry Butternut Squash Soup

To say I love winter squash would be an understatment.   I have a couple of other posts in my fairly new blog about it.  I just love it.  It is so sweet and flavorful.  I could eat it all day and in so many ways. 

A word about squash types.  My favorite is buttercup.  But it is only a tiny margin that seperates it from its cousins, buttercup, acorn and hubbard.  So for the purposes of this recipe, it can be any of them.  In this case I am using up the some of the last of the packets that I froze up in this post.  Which was hubbard, butternut and acorn.   So rather than differentiate (and cause squash is shorter to write than buttercup squash) I will be just saying squash throughout the post.. okay?

Well, I have been looking for a recipe for a squash soup.  I have a certain flavor in mind and have tried a couple store bought and both times it fell miles short.  I want something mildly sweet, spiced, and full of squash flavor.  I posted on a cooking blog I frequent and got a couple of possibles.  One will be an amalgamation of 2-3 different ones to try and get the flavor I want.  And then there is this one….. while it isnt what I was looking for, it is heavenly.  

This recipe is from Prevention RDs website.  I followed a link when I posted for the squash soup recipe.  I did do some mild adapting but not much.  She got it originally from Ginas Weight Watchers Recipes (which I bookmarked thank you very much!!).  Again it isnt the one I was looking for but it is going in The Box!!!  I tried it and yum!  I figured I would be eating it alone.   NOPE both Nik and Aaron love it.  So easy, took 20 minutes and so rich and flavorful.  And my fellow WW people…… a 1 cup serving is only 2 points.  I just about died when I saw that! 

2 cups already cooked mashed squash
1/2 medium onion
3 cloves garlic
1 tsp cumin
1 1/2 tsp garam masala
1 1/2 tsp curry powder
2 cups chicken stock
1 cup light coconut milk
1 tbsp brown sugar
1 tsp sea salt

Cast of characters

Start off by chopping your onion

Then the garlic and mincing them together fine.

In a dutch oven or 6-8 quart stock pot, add some Pam cooking spray and saute the onion and garlic of medium heat until translucent.

Measure out the spices.

And add them to the translucent veggies.  This will be kind of odd looking in the pan and very dry seeming but the heat will release the fragrance and flavors of the spices.

Add the chicken broth.
And then the squash.

And then the coconut  milk.   I had a half a can leftover so woooohooooo one less dirty dish!

Let simmer for about 10 minutes and then attack it with the stick wand to puree the onion and garlic.

Plate it up and take the can and the last few drops can make a pretty presentation.. or a dollop of plain yogurt or sour cream. 

This soup made the house smell so good.  And it was so warm and inviting on my tongue. I really was surprised by the flavor.  I cannot wait to make this again.   I am going to be making my other sweet squash soup in the next few days but I think this soup will be coming out of  The Box atleast one more time in the next couple weeks.  Curry is good food and so is squash. 

Happy Cooking!!


Use and Care for a Mortar and Pestle

I love my mortar.  Not sure why.  It sat in my kitchen for years and was not used.  It moved with me to 4-5 new places and never was used.  Then I married Rob.  He asked why I didnt use it, I had no intelligent reply so I started using it.  I can honestly say that it is only used for a few things but now that I am branching out in my cooking I will be using it for more. 

The task we use it for most is grinding up pepper and other spices.  I love how it smells now, all warm and inviting like I am in a spice shop.  I used it recently in my meatballs recipe and promised to show you how to use it and how to clean it.   So here goes.

Use, is easy.  You use it to grind up pepper, cinnamon stick, or to muddle other dried spices into powder.  I use it to ground up my oregano, basil and other spices if i dont want alot of flaky bits.  But Aaron will demonstrate with grinding pepper.

Cast of Characters

First take your prescribed amount needed.  Say you need 1 tbsp of pepper.  I would measure out ab0ut 1 1/2 tbsp of peppercorns and put them in the mortar.
Steadily apply pressure to start breaking them up a bit.
Then wrap a towel or a washcloth around the pestle and holding it down you can start really pounding on the peppercorns.

Swirling motions work as well.  Once you have gotten most of them cracked and ground a bit, you can take off the washcloth and then finish up to the fineness you need. 

Clean up was always one of the reasons I didnt use it often, the flavors would mix cause I wasnt cleaning it correctly.  Again my dear darling smart husband corrected me on that.   You clean it with uniodized salt.

Start with putting a tablespoon or two of salt in the mortar.
Grind it around all the surface that needs to be cleaned.

And grind and grind until it is a powder…..

Empty and then repeat.  Its that simple.  I use this for when I am making large batches of salsa and it requires 3 tbsp of pepper.  I dont like it already ground, you cannot taste the spice to it, it is just there but when you grind it yourself.. the warmth and the smell permeates the house. 

I would like to thank Aaron and Nik who are generally my mortar and pestle men!  I can say that I dont know too many kids out there who can use one.. leave it to my boys to know how. LOL  Though Millie says she would like to learn but she has no thumbs.  Look at her.. she wants to learn..

Organizing the Spices

I love spices. I have alot of spices.  I mean alot.  I have all my huge industrial size ones and then I had smaller amounts of ones I dont use as frequently.  I get most of my spices at the local food co-op in Middlebury VT when I go home to visit my Mom.  Bulk spices are wonderful.  They are fresher than most you get in the store and you can buy a little or a lot, and they are almost always cheaper!  Until now I could only get them in Middlebury.   BUT I recently found out that they have a small selection at A Market right here in Manchester.  This is probably not a good thing to know. 

I have a box that I keep all my spices in.  It has cans of boullion and extracts and this terrible bag full of bulk spices that makes a huge mess.  So last week when I had a bit of extra money, I used some to buy some jars from this site that sells glass, plastic and metal containers.   They came today.   Here is what I did.

I went from this…..

to this…..

Ahhhhhhhhhhhh so happy.  I love organizing…

Happy Cleaning Up!!