The garden variety of “my blue heaven,” a saga of a 28-pound blue Hubbard squash continues…
Winter squash plays well with others. It is adaptable to a variety of herbs and spices and complements other foods. This soup was based on infusing simmering milk with chai spices and adding it to squash puree to make a creamy, aromatic and delicious result. I used a cup of low-fat milk but you could use anything up to full cream according to your preference for “mouth feel” and tolerance for cholesterol. I set the milk mixture aside for the 30+ minutes it took to make the soup base. The soup base was simple: onions and squash puree simmered in lightly salted water. It did make a difference to puree the soup thoroughly before gradually adding the milk, poured through a strainer to capture the spices.
My squash was already roasted. If yours is raw, cut it into large pieces, and roast it cut side down in a 350-degree oven until soft. Let it cool and scoop the flesh from the shell.
Creamy Winter Squash Soup with Chai Spices
1 c milk (low-fat is fine)
½ tsp each coriander seeds, cardamom pods, allspice, and black peppercorns
1-inch piece of cinnamon bark, crushed
½ star anise (optional)
2 tsp butter or vegetable oil
1 medium onion, chopped
3-4 c roasted winter squash (such as butternut, blue Hubbard)
Approximately 2 c water, depending on the density of the squash
Garnish: cilantro leaves, Korean red pepper flakes
Heat the milk in a saucepan over medium-low heat just until it starts to simmer. Remove from the heat. Lightly crush the spices and add them to the milk, steeping them for about 30 minutes, or until the soup base is prepared.
Heat the butter or oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat and add the onion. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is translucent. Add the squash and some of the water, stirring to smoothen the texture of the squash. Adjust the liquid, remembering that you will add the milk later. Add salt. Simmer the soup over medium-low heat until thoroughly cooked, about 20-30 minutes. Puree in a food processor or with an immersion blender and return to the stove. Strain the spices from the milk and add it to the squash mixture. You may not want all of it. Simmer for 10 minutes. Do not let the mixture boil.
Add salt and pepper to taste. Garnish with cilantro leaves and a dash of Korean red pepper flakes.