It’s looking like spring…It seems like it’s been spring for months now, though.The chickens are certainly happy about the mild weather, since they’d rather chase butterflies and eat grass than hang out in the frozen mud pit that is the Winter Chicken Coop. Winter is such an important time of the year on a farm, though. Without winter, when would I have time to watch all six seasons of Lost? To completely clean out the pantry and rearrange my canned goods in rainbow order? As much as it might seem like I enjoy hard work, there’s something to be said for sleeping in and doing nothing (which never, ever happens in the summer). There’s nothing quite like a rainy winter day when all there is to do is keep a fire going in the wood stove and, you know, spend all afternoon experimenting with winter squash recipes.
The great thing: the weather forecast this week looks horrible! I was just about to fully embrace spring, but it seems like we’ll still have a chance to do the whole winter thing for atleast a little while. I have a bunch of recipes I haven’t gotten around to making yet, cold weather stuff, with ingredients like pork sausage, maple syrup, duck, butternut squash, pumpkins…. recipes like creamed winter greens, maple-chevre-cheesecake, roasted pumpkin with blue cheese and pecans.
This soup is one of my absolute favorite – best of the best – butternut squash recipes. Before the winter squash is all gone and I get completely distracted by things like peas and radishes, I had to make it atleast once. Butternut Squash Bisque with Coconut Milk and Lemongrass
This is an adaptation of the Winter Squash Soup from Deborah Madison’s Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone (p. 216). Her recipe is more complicated and uses more ingredients (you need to make the Stock for Curried Dishes before you can do the main soup recipe). I’ve followed the recipe out of the cookbook before, but this is my faster, easier version.
- 1 1/2 tbs. unrefined peanut oil
- 1/4 tsp. coriander
- 2 green cardamom pods
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 1 tsp. turmeric
- 1 tbs. ginger, minced
- 4 2” sections of fresh lemongrass
- 2 small thai chilis, seeds and all, minced
- 1 red onion, diced
- 2 celery ribs, diced
- 2 carrots, diced
- cilantro stems (the leaves are used as a garnish, the stems go in the soup)
- 2 1/2 lb. butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into cubes
- water (or vegetable stock)
- 1 can of coconut milk
- juice from 2 limes
- salt & pepper to taste, and an optional splash of hot sauce if the peppers don’t do it for you
- garnish: chopped mint and cilantro leaves
Heat the peanut oil in a soup pot on medium heat. Add the coriander, turmeric, cardamom pods, cinnamon stick and lemongrass. Saute the spices alone for a minute or two. Then, add the ginger, onion, carrots and celery and saute for 5-6 minutes, until the onions start to look translucent. Add the butternut squash and cilantro stems into the pot and then cover everything with water or stock (Not too much water, just enough to cover the vegetables. You can always add more later, but it’s hard to fix a soup that’s too thin). Simmer for an hour or two on low heat, adding water occasionally to keep the squash covered.
Remove the tough lemongrass stalks and the cinnamon stick and discard them. Puree the soup with an immersion blender (or whatever appliance you use to puree things…)
Stir in the can of coconut milk and the lime juice. Season with salt and pepper. If it’s not spicy enough for you, feel free to put a splash of tabasco sauce to give it a bit more kick. Garnish with chopped mint and cilantro leaves. In the past I’ve also garnished with chopped peanuts, sliced cabbage, sesame seeds, fried tofu even…. whatever makes you happy.