We still 19 days of winter to go and I can hardly stand to look at another root vegetable. I've made it through the season roasting cauliflower and brussels sprouts, caramelizing onions, pureeing parsnips. All have been delicious, but what I wouldn't give for a greenmarket tomato right now. And some sunshine. And green leaves on the trees. Instead, I've got carrots and butternut squash.
Roasting brings out the natural sweetness in winter vegetables and is the easiest way I know to make them taste really good with minimum effort. Tired of my usual olive oil-salt-roast-at-400-degrees-and-devour method, I decided to take it a step further and puree the roasted carrots and squash into a creamy soup. I barely added anything to the vegetables, just some water and a touch of cream, so the end result tasted purely of sweet, earthy squash and carrots. It tasted so light and healthy. I could almost feel the vitamins brightening my gray winter complexion. Almost.
The soup was a first course as part of my Indian-ish dinner, so I added a touch of garam masala and a dollop of cumin-spiced yogurt and chopped cilantro on top. If you don't like the flavor of curry, you could use a bit of thyme or basil instead. But keep the yogurt because it adds a nice creaminess.
The soup was a deep, gorgeous shade of orange. It reminded me of that big fiery thing in the sky that comes out sometimes. You know, that warms your face and makes you feel less depressed? What's that thing called again?
Butternut squash and carrot soup
(Makes 4 to 6 servings)
1/2 medium butternut squash, peeled chopped into 1-inch pieces
3 large carrots, peeled and chopped into 1-inch pieces
1 onion, peeled and chopped into 1-inch pieces
2 Tbsp. olive oil
salt and pepper
1 Tbsp. garam masala
1 cup of hot water or so
1/4 cup heavy cream, or to taste
1/2 cup Greek yogurt
1/2 lemon, juiced
1 tsp. cumin
2 Tbsp. chopped cilantro
Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Place the chopped squash, carrots, and onions in a baking pan. Drizzle with olive oil, garam masala and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast for 15 to 20 minutes, shaking the pan a few times to keep them from sticking. Remove from the oven when tender and caramelized. (Brown spots are fine and add flavor.) Place the vegetables in a blender and add 1/2 cup hot water. Puree, adding an additional 1/2 cup water to get a smooth consistency. Add the cream and puree until blended. Taste and adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper. At this point, you can serve the soup as-is, or if you are not eating until later on, you can refrigerate it and re-heat it in a pot on the stove.
In a small bowl, combine the yogurt, lemon juice, cumin, and add salt to taste. Pour the hot soup into bowls and top each one with a spoonful of yogurt and some chopped cilantro.