ประเสริฐ (Sublime)Thai Influenced Blue Hubbard Squash Soup

thaicurrysoup

I adore winter squash and especially Blue Hubbard squash and Kuri squash. These two varieties of winter squash are really sweet.  They keep for a long time (I keep mine in the basement) so when I want to rustle up a comforting soup I have one on hand. I wanted to have a super comforting soup on this particular day and opted to go for a Thai influenced squash soup made with Blue Hubbard Squash.  Oh yes it had coconut cream in it, rich and decadent and brimming with flavor.

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 pounds of Blue Hubbard Squash – cut into pieces
  • 1 large leek – 2 cups diced
  • 1 medium onion – 1 cup diced
  • red curry paste – 2 tbl
  • fish sauce – 1 tbl
  • Thai basil leaves – 10 leaves
  • galangal – 1 1/2″ knob
  • 5 kafir lime leaves
  • chicken stock – 4 cups
  • 1 can (14 ounce) coconut cream
  • 2 tbl olive oil

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
  2. Roast Blue Hubbard squash for 1/2 hour or until softened and slightly caramelized
  3. Heat 1 tbl olive oil in soup pot.  Add leeks and onions to pot and saute until softened.
  4. Add roasted squash and red curry paste and briefly saute until curry paste mixed through the vegetables.
  5. Add fish sauce, chicken stock, and spices to the pot and incorporate all ingredients.
  6. Simmer the soup for 1/2 hour until cooked through.
  7. Puree soup.
  8. Add coconut cream and mix through.
  9. Serve piping hot.

I chopped up batwan fruit as a garnish.

What is Batwan (Binucao) fruit? Batwan is a fruit of a forest tree native to the Philippines and is common and widely distributed throughout Luzon and the Visayan Islands. I bought it preserved in a jar (mine was reddish in color) but if fresh it is a large green fruit with large seeds. It is commonly used as a souring ingredient in Filipino cuisine. I thought, why not try it with Thai food as a garnish.

I also made a mint/cilantro/Thai basil pesto, as a garnish. Along with mint, cilantro and Thai basil I also used peanut cookies, sesame oil, garlic, fish sauce and olive oil. Quirky but unusual. Recipe to come later.

Garnish with large shrimp, mint/cilantro/basil pesto, Batwan fruit and peanut cookies. I know unusual combination instead but tasty.

I paired this decadent goodness with an old German Riesling from a favorite producer 1996 Grunhauser Abtsberg Riesling.  Perfect amount of petrol and acid. Decadent goodness with decadent goodness.

thaicurrysoup1

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Bodacious Grains of Paradise, Chicken & Lentil Soup

I felt like cooking soup today and had some grains of paradise that I had purchased at Boulette’s Larder at the Ferry Market in San Francisco.

Grains of Paradise from Boulette’s Larder in San Francisco

Grains of paradise are peppery seeds from the Aframomum melegueta plant. They have been used in their native West Africa for centuries, and in Europe since at least the 800s. Today, they are commonly in used in Northern Africa. Stores which specialize in spices may carry grains of paradise. They can also be ordered through companies which import spices.

This spice is also known as alligator pepper, Guinea grains, or melegueta pepper. It has a slightly peppery flavor, but the taste of grains of paradise is a bit more complex than pepper. The spice tastes a bit like coriander, ginger, and cardamom, with a bit of a citrus flavor. It is milder than black pepper, but it still packs a punch, especially when applied in large amounts.

Grains of Paradise

I had a few ingredients that I wanted to use up along with some home made veggie stock. I had not one onion in the house (I turned the veggie drawers over and could not find one) so I used leeks instead and that was a success as leeks are wonderfully sweet and complex. I also had some lovely small garnet yams in the fridge and added those as well for more sweetness.

The Recipe
Ingredients
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 1/3 cups leeks, finely chopped
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup carrots, finely chopped
2 cups diced garnet yams
8 ounces chicken breast cut into 1/2 pieces
1 cup red lentils
1 cup tomato sauce
8 cups vegetable stock
3/4 teaspoon ground coriander
3/4 teaspoon ground cumin
3/4 teaspoon grains of paradise
1/4 tsp celery seed
1/4 tsp ground dried thyme
1 bay leaf
parsley and pea shoots for garnish
Directions
1. Heat the olive oil in large pot and add the leeks and saute until softened, about 8 minutes.
2. Add the carrot and sweat until the carrots are softened, about 7 minutes.
3. Add the chicken breast and continue to saute until the chicken is slightly browned.
4. Add the remaining incredients and stir to combine. Increase the heat to high and bring to a boil.
5. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer until the lentils are tender, about 40-50 minutes. Check from time to time and add additional stock (or water) if the soup is too thick.

I topped mine with a bit of parsley and some delicious pea shoots for some additional pepperiness. Be warned if you munch on a grain of paradise you will get a good hit of peppery flavor. But a lovely pepper it is.

Enjoy, serve with a side salad for a healthy meal.

Lentil Soup With Grains of Paradise
Finished Lentil Soup With Grains of Paradise

Luscious Lentil Soup with Young Ginger Shoots

I love shopping at farmers’ markets as one always finds unusual fresh produce. Today proved to be one of those days. I scored lots of great produce. The big find was fresh young ginger complete with tender shoots and leaves. Given I hate wasting I thought it might be kind of cool to cook the shoots and leaves, well at least add them as a seasoning to soup.

It was cloudy outside so a perfect time to have a body warming soup. I love red lentils so it seemed like a perfect thing to eat on a fall evening. This recipe was put together on the fly. Given I had no yellow onions, I used leeks and red onions. I thought some orange bell peppers would be nice and sweet so I put some of those into the soup. I did have some hot Ethiopian Berbere peppers so I added one small green one to the soup. But the star of the soup were the ginger leaves and shoot. They proved to be delicate and sweet. The soup itself was very delicate and yet flavorful. A perfect dish for a cool evening.

The soup was garnished with some Indian Micro Greens from Baia Nicchia Farm and Nursery.

Luscious Lentil Soup with Fresh Ginger Leaves and Shoots

Ingredients
1 cup red lentils
2 cups chopped leeks
3/4 cup diced red onion
1 large clove garlic – finely chopped
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground cardamom
2 cup vegetable stock
2 cups water
2 ginger root leaves
1 tender young ginger root shoot
1/4 tsp ginger root – grated on microplane
1 cup diced orange bell pepper
1 small berbere pepper – finely diced
2 tsp canola oil

garnish: Indian Micro Greens

Method
1. Heat canola oil in heavy bottom pan.
2. Add the leek to pan along with salt and saute for 5 minutes until softened.
3. Add the red onion to pan and continue sauteing until softened – another 8 minutes.
4. Add the bell pepper to pan, saute 5 minutes.
5. Add the berbere pepper to pan along with grated ginger root and saute 5 minutes.
6. Add the garlic to pan and saute 2 minutes.
7. Add the red lentils to pan and briefly saute.
8. Add the vegetable stock, water, ginger leaves, ginger shoot and cardamom.
9. Simmer for about 40 minutes until lentils are cooked.

Serve piping hot garnished with Indian Micro Greens… Delicious.