This soup was what Brinn served with dinner last Monday. Oh, Monday dinners; always a special event. Somewhere along the line, someone decided that starting the week off with a good meal was just as important as ending it with one. Ever since, Monday’s table has been host to some particularly tasty spreads. On this particular Monday, the soup discussed here was joined by Chickpeas with Cilantro and Cumin and Seared Pork with Citrus and Chipotle; all nestled in on a bed of couscous. Wonderful.
The soup, however, deserves particular attention; hearty enough to be the cornerstone of the meal and only need a simple side of salad, possibly some bread to augment it. This was fantastic. There is a great deal of depth to the flavor, with the sweetness of the squash offset by the bitterness of the walnuts. There is even a floral note that comes from rose water. This recipe was only slightly modified from the book Silk Road Cooking: A Vegetarian Journey by Najmieh Batmanglij.
Her book is a relatively recent addition to our library and some of the cuisines represented are new to us as well. While we try not to alter recipes too
much when we initially cook them, Brinn did make some changes to this one due to a strong personal preference for a creamier soup and a little different emphasis on the spice, which was adjusted toward the end. The recipe below is how she prepared it, although I recommend you check out Mrs. Batmanglij’s book, especially if you prefer vegetarian cooking. I have to admit, serving it with seared pork is likely not in keeping with the spirit of the book.
One of the nice things about this soup is that it neatly fills the role of a hearty cream soup while not having any dairy in it. This is cool for a couple of reasons: the first is that some folks, myself include, like to avoid large amounts or any dairy; the second reason is that this soup avoids the baggage associated with cooking with dairy in a cream soup. It is really shock resistant and will not break or curdle. In addition, it is relatively hard to get it to scorch. If it gets overly thick, just water it down a bit and keep cooking. Better than even odds that some variant on this soup will be be repeat offender in our kitchen, especially during the fall when the weather cools and squash is abundant.
- 2 Tbs. vegetable oil
- 1 onion, thinly chopped
- 1 fresh green chili, such as Serrano, chopped
- 1 cup walnuts, coarsely chopped
- 2 pounds butternut squash, peeled and cut into 1 inch chunks
- 4 cups vegetable stock
- 1 cup bulgar, soaked in 1 cup almond milk for at least 40 minutes
- ½ cup rice flour dissolved in 2 cups water
- 2 tsp. salt
- 1½ tsp. black pepper, crushed
- 1 tsp. sugar
- ¾ tsp. cinnamon
- ¾ tsp. cumin
- ½ tsp. rose water
- ½ cup scallions, chopped
- 1 cup orange juice
- ½ cup lime juice
- In medium soup pot, heat oil over medium high heat, add the onions and stir-fry until softened. Add the chili, walnuts, and squash. Continue cooking and additional 2 to 3 minutes.
- Add the stock, bring to a boil, and cook, partially covered, until squash is softened, about 30 to 45 minutes.
- Remove from heat and, when slightly cooled, process in food processor or blender until creamy. Return to pot.
- Add soaked bulgar, rice flour, spices, and rose water and return to a low boil, stirring constantly. Reduce heat to low, partially cover, and simmer for 20 to 30 minutes. Soup may thicken excessively. If it does, dilute with water, bring it back to a boil, reduce the heat and continue cooking.
- Immediately prior to serving, stir in orange and lime juice, ladle into bowels and garnish with a generous portion of chopped scallions.