I know, I know, I just wrote about gremolata and here it is again, sneaking it’s way into this soup post. It’s not that I want to be known as the gremolata girl, but honestly, I couldn’t help myself. While this spicy & sweet winter squash soup is delicious on its own, I wanted to add something else to it and felt that heavy croutons wouldn’t cut it. I yearned for something fresh and light and vibrant and figured that a mix of herbs, hot peppers, orange zest and apples would be a great accompaniment. This isn’t a frou-frou garnish, instead, it adds a layer of complexity that really works well.
This soup is very sophisticated and complex in flavour yet it’s a cinch to prepare. I think was inspired by some seriously amazing and luxurious meals I had this past weekend. You see, I was chosen to spend 4 jam-packed days in Vieux Montreal (that’s the Old Quarter of Montreal for you anglos) with 5 other Canadian bloggers courtesy of the very passionate Montreal coffee company, Van Houtte. I’m a simple girl used to soaking my own chickpeas and eating out usually involves a cheeseburger, so dining at fantastic restaurants and eating multi-course meals, let alone participating in wine-tastings and coffee cuppings, is way out of the ordinary for me. I loved it and wanted to capture a bit of that worldliness in one of my first meals back at home and I think I did good.
For this dish, I roasted several small varieties of winter squash the night before – and just so you know, most ornamental squash can be eaten! Those tiny cute pumpkins I got from our CSA before Halloween were quickly roasted and turned into soup. After cutting them in half and scraping out the seeds and stringy bits, I put them into a roasting pan filled with nearly an inch of water. Once they were soft, I just scraped all the innards and was left with just over 2 cups of squash. I think you could easily use canned pumpkin or roast your own acorn/butternut/kabocha squash here and get great results.
All curry powders & pastes have different spice levels. If you’re not sure how spicy yours is, start by adding a small amount at a time until you get the spice that suits your taste buds.
elsewhere: Looking for a warm & flavourful biscuit to eat with your soup or stew? Head over to Poppytalk & bake up a batch of easy zucchini & cheddar biscuits.
spicy winter squash soup with apples & orange scented gremolata
1 T butter (or Smart Balance or olive oil, if you want something non-dairy)
1 small onion, diced
2″ knob of ginger, diced
1 large carrot, diced
1 birds eye chili, seeds removed & diced
1/2 t salt
1 t freshly ground pepper
1 heaping T curry paste (I used Patak’s Jalfrezi paste – curry powder works too!)
2 1/2 c cooked winter squash
2 apples, skinned & diced (I used russets)
6 c vegetable or chicken stock or water
a few shakes of your favorite hot sauce (optional)
In a large heavy pot, heat butter over medium-high heat and add in the onion and ginger, letting it sweat and get wilty – about 4 minutes. Add in the carrot, fresh chili, salt and ground pepper and stir around to get fragrant. Stir in the curry paste, along with the cooked squash and apples. Pour in the water or stock and give everything a good stir. Put on the lid and let simmer over low heat for 20-30 minutes, checking at the half way point to add in additional liquid if needed, and stirring occasionally.
Use an immersion blender to puree the soup and taste it to see if it needs more seasoning – I always add in some hot sauce here (vinegar based or sriracha, your call). Pour soup into bowls and top with gremolata. Makes 4-6 servings.
orange scented gremolata
1 birds eye chili, seeds removed & finely diced
1 T fresh parsley, finely chopped
2 t fresh sage, finely chopped
zest of a small orange, diced
1 t green pepper, finely diced
1 T of finely diced apple (I used a russet)
Prep the gremolata just before you are going to serve the soup. Combine all ingredients and drop a small spoonful on top of the soup. Trust me, this is more than a pretty garnish. Be amazed.