Food Geekery: Butternut Squash, Experiment #1 (Part the First)

I’m cooking on the fly with very little guidance. Be very, very afraid.

I got a 7-lb. (!) butternut squash from work. It was the last one. No one else was buying it. I was just tempted enough to take a winter vegetable and see what summery things I could do with it. At least, what edible things I can do with it. “Summery” would be a bonus.

The only problem is that Joel isn’t so fond of the butternut squash. “Vegetables shouldn’t be sweet,” he says. In honor of this, I went with a curried soup that will (hopefully!) taste good cold too. (Why I didn’t just make a pie is beyond me, but I wanted soup, so soup it was. I’m going to regret that decision, I can tell. That, or I’ll have to get a sweet potato pie from the pie lady at the farmer’s market tomorrow, to make it up to myself.)

I started with a recipe that I’ve made once or twice, which usually calls for red lentils, tomatoes and onions as the base, with some lovely spices — turmeric, cumin, cardamom, cinnamon — thrown in. Simmer, puree, strain, add coconut milk and lime juice.

For some reason, I thought the squash would work well with these flavors, so I basically just cut up the beauty, steamed it, and chunked it up into what was, more or less, the normal ingredients. (I say “more or less” because I didn’t have red lentils, but yellow split peas. It’s an experiment.)

Did I mention the squash was huge? (Note: I have larger hands than most; about 7-1/2 inches from wrist to tip.)

it's a big squash.  or was.

I decided to steam it in slices, and I have never been so grateful for a good knife in all my days.

good knives make life easier, in general.

I’d heard that squashes steam up nicely, but I’d never tried it before. The flesh certainly stays a nice vibrant color that way.
steamy!

I had some other good ingredients to work with, including Vidalia onion and fresh local tomatoes.
tomatoes and onions and ... onions.  Oh my!

My favorite part of making any meal is when I get to grind up spices or salt in the mortar and pestle. That’s food therapy at its best. I used whole cumin seed instead of ground, mainly because I found the whole first.

teh mortar.  it mekes mii happi.

This is the best part about this soup recipe in general — it’s “chop it up and throw it all in”.

all the stuff together, in water.  easy peasy!

After the peas got cooked, I added in chunks of the butternut squash.

the soup -- nearly done!

Of course, I ran out of energy, and we needed dinner, so the cooking had to be put on hold for the evening. The whole shebang is sitting in my refrigerator right now, being good until I can finish it (probably Sunday). The spices should be quite strong by then. I’ll have to taste it tomorrow, to make sure it’s not getting too heavy on the spice.

Next steps: blending, sieving, and adding coconut milk. Then the spicing experimentation will begin.

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