Saturday, February 12, 2011

Quaker Soup Day

I have to feed the Quakers from time to tomorrow.

Now Quakers, as a rule, are a hard to define bunch. There is a reason they are called 'united anarchists', you know. But one thing about them is this: as flexible as they can be, they do tend to live at the cutting edge of health food trends. I was once handed a bottle of stevia after making a dessert too sweet. 'Vegetarian options' were offered at their gatherings well before Diet for a Small Planet was published. So, it comes as no surprise that when I have to feed them, I must consider the strong possibility that several will be vegetarian, some vegan, some gluten-free, some dairy free, and some nut free. Also, it can't be too weird because Quakers have children and they have to eat too. Of course there are the raw foodies. I just feed them nuts. And for myself, because I too am a Quaker too, I like to keep it cheap and uncomplicated.

So, on the days that we have a longer-than-usual time together I try to make a soup that will satisfy all the possibilities. I'll call it Quaker Soup Day. It happens once a month.

Today, I made a Thai Butternut Squash Soup. It covers all those bases, and tastes wonderful on cold winter days. It is spicy without being too 'hot' (in a picante sort of way), so it warms your bones without causing pain; and it is full of that beta-carotene we need so much this time of year; finally, it is just a bit exotic, so it helps combat some of that cabin fever we all seem to be feeling.

Butternut Squash Soup for a Crowd
Makes a big pot
2 tablespoons coconut oil
2 large onions, chopped
1 large butternut squash, peeled, seeds scooped out, chopped into 1-inch pieces
2 tablespoons rice
2 quarts vegetable stock
1 can coconut milk
1 pinch of cayenne
2 tablespoons red Thai curry paste
2-4 stalks lemon grass, halved lengthwise then cut into 2-inch lengths
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 kefer lime leaves or 1 fresh lime with zest
salt to taste
Thai fish sauce

Heat the coconut oil in a large dutch oven. Add the onions and saute until transluscent. Add the squash, rice, and vegetable stock and bring to a simmer until squash is tender.

Blend carefully in small batches and return to stove. Add the coconut milk, cayenne, curry paste, lemon grass, soy sauce, kefer lime leaves (if using) or lime zest. Heat until almost to a simmer, and keep that way for 10 minutes. Squeeze in the lime. Add the fish sauce and cilantro before serving, but keep some out for the strict vegetarians or those unlucky few who can't eat cilantro. Add salt if necessary.

The lemon grass stalks can be used as garnish in the bowl or removed.
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1 comment:

  1. Here's what Cook's Illustrated says about getting the most flavor from butternut squash...