THE RABBITS got the beans that year. The cold weather all that same “summer” got some of the tomatoes. But I got the winter squash, in spades–a bumper crop. Meaning: Let there be soup. Winter Squash-Coconut Milk Soup with Garam Masala, to be specific.
The house was full of squash, in fact, that year–from my desk, where they sit, expectant, beside my laptop (below) to the entire mudroom (bottom of page), where horse-collar-shaped oddities like ‘Tromboncino’ join the smaller ‘Butternut’ types.
I made up this recipe at freezer-emptying time in early summer, when I found two containers of roasted, mashed winter squash in my deep-freeze, and needed the room for incoming garden-fresh goodies. It is based on a soup with a coconut undertone and Indian spices that I had eaten in a restaurant and wanted to try to emulate. My first pass went like this:
winter squash-coconut milk soup with garam masala
- 4 cups fine-grained winter squash, such as ‘Butternut’ or ‘Blue Hubbard,’ roasted and mashed
- 3 Tablespoons olive oil
- 1½ cups diced onion
- 3 cloves garlic, chopped
- garam masala powder (start with 1 Tablespoon; I used 3 Tablespoons; see note below about this spice blend)
- ¾ cup canned light, unsweetened organic coconut milk
- 3 cups vegetable broth (or water)
- cilantro for garnish, chopped
- Roast and mash the squash ahead of time. (To roast: Simply halve the squash, scoop out seeds, and place halves, flesh side down, on a baking sheet in a 375F oven until soft. Then scoop and mash the cooked flesh, discarding the skin.)
- Saute the diced onion and chopped garlic in olive oil until soft.
- Add the garam masala and cook a little longer. (Enjoy the fragrance!)
- Measure out the 4 cups of squash into a soup pot, and add spiced onion-garlic to it.
- Add coconut milk and broth (or water). Note: I like a thick soup, but you may wish to dilute further. Also: Some squash are drier, some moister, so adjust for that as well to preferred consistency.
- Bring to a boil and reduce heat to simmer for 45 minutes or longer.
- Cooled to at least warm, then puree with an immersion blender right in the pot, or ladle into a blender in batches until all the soup is pureed.
- Garnish with cilantro at serving time.
I USED this garam masala, from spicesandtease.com, but each brand will be a little (or a lot) different. I can tell you that this one is nothing like the supermarket bottled version, if your supermarket even sells garam masala.
“Garam masala is an essential ingredient in the cooking of the Punjab region of northern India,” the Spices and Tease online catalog explains. “Loosely defined, ‘masala’ is any blend of spices, and ‘garam’ means hot.”
Spices and Tease says their garam masala contains: Moroccan coriander; cardamom from Tamil Nadu, India; bay leaves; Tellicherry pepper; cinnamon; caraway; Zanzibar cloves; China #1 ginger, and nutmeg. A great place to order holiday gifts for friends who cook, whether squash soup or otherwise.
Don’t have garam masala? One batch I improvised with my own masala of flavors: In the cupboard I found powdered cumin, coriander and a little cardamon, plus ginger powder and then I added some harissa from a jar in the fridge, too. Delicious.