West Indian Spiced Squash Soup

What this Dish can Teach about Making Authentic Indian Food at Home

This dish teaches a specific spice skill, and, even better, a knowledge of Maharashtrian spice mixes that combine aromatic spices with nuttier seeds such as sesame, coconut and poppyseeds, which lend not only nutty richness, but also act as a thickening agent for a hearty, satisfying sauce. A familiarity with this spice mix will help making authentic Indian food at home much more interesting by preparing you for making dishes such as Kohlapuri Chicken, or Tambda Rassa

The skill of toasting spices until fragrant is especially useful if you're looking to make recipes that don't use so much cooking oil. Try this West Indian Spiced Squash Soup recipe for an easy introduction to the world of central Maharashtrian flavours.

West Indian Squash Soup Recipe

Roasting whole spices then grinding them is easy, but the flavour that emerges from this simple process is bold, complex and tastes incredible, and that's the process that makes this dish special (and a blast to make and finish). This West Indian spiced squash soup is a fusion of a Canadian fall favourite and a spice mixture from the Western part of India, specifically Maharashtra.

West Indian Squash Soup Ingredients

2 medium onions, diced
2-3 medium tomatoes, cored and diced
1-2 tbsp ginger, minced
6-8 cloves garlic, minced
5-6 cups cubed butternut squash
Juice of 1/2 lemon
4 cups vegetable stock
2-3 tbsp vegan butter or cooking oil
2 tbsp garam masala
2 tbsp paprika
1 large cortland or other sour apple, diced
salt to taste

For the toasting and grinding

1/2 tbsp nutmeg
6-10 cloves
3 tbsp coriander seeds
2 inch piece of a cinnamon stick
8 green cardamom pods, smashed
10 black peppercorns

2 tbsp cumin
1/4 cup dried coconut
1.5 tbsp sesame seeds
2 tbsp poppy seeds (you can substitute with other nuts)
3-4 dried red chilies

West Indian Squash Soup Method

1. In a large pot on medium-high heat, heat the nutmeg, cloves, coriander, cinnamon (or cassia) cardamom and peppercorns until slightly golden and fragrant. If you pre-heat the pan, this should take around a minute. Stir them so they do not burn.

2. Now add the cumin, coconut, sesame seeds, poppy seeds, and dried red chilies. Toast until browned and fragrant, stirring to prevent burning. Set aside the spice mix and spread them out on parchment or a baking sheet to let them cool off.

3. Melt the butter in the pot (if you have some hing on hand, go ahead and add a half teaspoon or so to the butter now), and add the onions, garlic, and ginger, cook on medium heat for about 2 minutes until transparent, add your garam masala and cook for another 1 minute.

4. Grind your toasted spices in a coffee or spice grinder, add these to your onions.

5. Now add your butternut squash, diced apple and vegetable stock. For a creamier soup, you can use oat milk (it's the best). 

6. Depending on tartness you may want to add more or less lemon juice. The apple adds both sweetness and tartness. Salt and spice to taste. Cayenne or Indian red chili powder will both work if you want to make it hotter.

7. Water as needed to create a proper soup consistency

8. Serve! Garnish with fenugreek (methi) leaves, other herbs, or green onion along with a small dallop of butter.

September 17, 2019 — Ben M

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