Saturday, November 10, 2012

Winter Squash Soup with Rosemary Cashews

It's fall so I'm here to sing the praises of Kabocha (also called Buttercup) once again. Some of you may recall earlier posts extolling the virtues of this pumpkin-like hard squash that originates in Japan, and for new visitors you can take a look here:

For this recipe I combined Kabocha with butternut squash and the results exceeded my expectations.

Kabocha's flesh color resembles that of the butternut squash, but the texture is a bit drier and similar to a chestnut. That texture, combined with its sweet flavor, makes for velvety smooth pureed soup when paired with the juicier butternut. It's hearty, satisfying and could be the perfect starter for your Thanksgiving dinner. Gather around the fireplace with family and friends, serve up a steaming cup of this tasty soup, and reflect on all that you're grateful for as we head into the holiday season.

Kabocha Winter Squash Soup with Roasted Rosemary Cashews
Serves 6-8
1 medium sized Kabocha squash
1 small butternut squash
4 shallots, sliced thinly
5 slices of fresh ginger
2 oranges, peeled and quartered
Pinch of sea salt
Pinch of pepper
2 cups/500 ml vegetable stock
1/2 cup/125 ml of almond milk

Quarter the squashes and remove the seeds. Place in a baking dish or cast iron skillet, drizzle with a little olive oil, cover with foil and bake in a 375 degree oven for about 90 minutes. They're done when you can easily pierce them with a fork.  Cool, remove the flesh from the skin, and place in a blender (I use the Vitamix). Add a little water to the baking dish and deglaze the pan. Add these pan juices to the blender for added flavor.

Saute the shallots in olive oil, or a few pats of butter, until they just start to brown. Add shallots, ginger, oranges, salt, pepper, vegetable stock and almond milk to the blender. Begin on low speed and slowly increase the speed to high, blending for about 1 minute, or until your soup is smooth and creamy. If the mixture is too thick just add a little more stock. Use the tamper with Vitamix to combine your ingredients, or turn off the blender and mix with a spoon then resume blending.

Roasted Rosemary Cashews
1/2 cup/72g raw cashews
Olive Oil
Pinch of sea salt
1 teaspoon of finely chopped rosemary

Lightly coat the nuts with olive oil, add the salt and rosemary, then roast in a 375 degree oven until they start to brown. Once cooled, set a few whole cashews aside and coarsely chop the rest to use a garnish.

Heat the blended soup in a sauce pan until it just reaches a boil. Pour into a bowl and sprinkle each serving with chopped cashews, two whole cashews and a sprig of rosemary.

Transform this sweet, creamy goodness into a meal by adding a side salad. I served it with arugula, green apples, Kalamata olives and crumbled goat cheese all lightly dressed with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. 

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