Moroccan Butternut Squash and Creamy Coconut Soup

IMG_3286-0Another week of freezing temperatures in Chicago sent me scouring for new soup recipes this week. I was looking for bold flavor but creamy in texture, the kind of soup you might savor in a steamy oversized mug and feel inspired by. My search led me to this unexpected butternut squash recipe posted on www.halfbakedharvest.com. Enveloped in the deep Moroccan flavors of cinnamon, ginger, and curry, then swirled with creamy coconut milk, this impressive recipe did not fail to impress and was easily adapted to a soul-satisfying one-pot vegan wonder.

MOROCCAN BUTTERNUT SQUASH AND CREAMY COCONUT SOUP
1 head garlic, for roasting (or you may sub 2 cloves garlic, not roasted)
2 tablespoons coconut oil
1 red bell pepper, chopped
4 cups butternut squash, peeled and cubed
1 teaspoon spicy curry powder
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme, chopped
2 Tablespoons freshly chopped ginger
2 (14 ounce) can coconut milk
2 cups veggie broth
salt and pepper, to taste
roughly chopped cilantro and pistachios, for topping

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Chop off the top portion of the garlic head to reveal cloves, pour one teaspoon of olive oil on top of the garlic cloves and cover with foil then roast for 45 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool five minutes. Squeeze garlic out of the paper skin. Meanwhile, add the coconut oil to a large soup pot set over medium heat, then add the red pepper and cook for 3-5 minutes or until soft. Add the cubed butternut squash, spicy curry powder, smoked paprika, cumin, cinnamon, cayenne, ginger and thyme. Season with salt and pepper. Cook for 3-5 minutes then pour in the coconut milk and veggie broth, reserving just a few spoonfuls of coconut milk. Bring the soup to boil, reduce the heat, cover and simmer for 20-25 minutes or until the butternut squash is fork tender. Once the butternut squash is tender, then add the roasted garlic. Use a hand blender to puree the soup, then let simmer for additional 5 minutes. Top with freshly chopped cilantro and pistachio, and drizzle with a splash of coconut milk.

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Tofu Vindaloo

Tofu Vindaloo

I’m not an advocate for complicated processes in the kitchen — and this requires a few steps more than what’s normal for me — but the hard work really pays off in this tantalizing Indian recipe of complex flavors and spices that truly makes your heart soar. It it based on a recipe from one of my favorite blogs Oh My Veggies, and requires a hand blender or food processor and a spice grinder or mortar and pestle if you are using whole seeds or cloves. But don’t be intimidated. Spice cooking is not like baking. You can add a little more turmeric here and a little less garlic there, you can skip an element all together, and your curry base will still take on a life of its own. This vindaloo concept might be life changing for you, as it was for me. I mean, who doesn’t want a Indian dish in their repertoire? All I’m saying is, buy some naan and make this.

VINDALOO PASTE
1 small onion, quartered
3 garlic cloves
2 teaspoons fresh grated ginger
1/2 tablespoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper

TOFU VINDALOO
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 (15-ounce) package extra firm tofu cut into 1-inch cubes
1 1/4 cups vegetable broth
1/2 cup tomato paste
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 medium head cauliflower, chopped into florets
1 red bell pepper, diced
2 cups fresh green beans, cut into 2-inch pieces
Rice or naan, for serving

Place all of the vindaloo paste ingredients in a food processor or hand blender base and puree until it reaches a paste consistency, stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl or pitcher as needed. Set aside. In a separate bowl, combine the vegetable broth, tomato paste, vinegar and sugar. Set aside. Add the oil to a large saucepan over medium-high heat, cook tofu cubes for 10 minutes, flipping every 2 minutes or so, until it’s lightly browned. Push the tofu out to the sides of the of the saucepan, making a space in the center. Add the vindaloo paste to the center and heat for 1 minute, until fragrant. Add the broth mixture and gently combine, then bring to a simmer and add the cauliflower, pepper and green beans. Reduce heat to low and simmer, uncovered, for 12-15 minutes or until veggies are tender, stirring occasionally. Add up to 1/2 cup of water during cooking if sauce becomes too thick.