Monday, October 18, 2010
Moroccan Butternut Soup
I’m a bit of an old movie buff. Particularly old romantic comedies. I think it all began with the summer of 1991 when I broke my arm for the first time. (I’ve broken my left arm a total of three times.) So while all my friends were out swimming, playing in the woods, playing softball, and just running around having fun, I was cooped up inside. I can’t remember if we had cable or not, but I know we didn’t have the movie channels. So my aunt recorded a couple movies on VHS and I think I watched that tape at least once a week. One of the movies on it was “Pillow Talk“, which still to this day remains one of my favorite movies, and began my love of Doris Day movies. While I absolutely love her in the silly romantic comedies and have seen most of them, a while back I DVR-ed Hitchcock’s “The Man Who Knew Too Much” because I was interested in watching Doris Day in a non-comedic role. In case you don’t know, this movie is about a couple and their child vacationing in Morocco. I remember one of the most interesting scenes to me was when Doris Day & Jimmy Stewart’s characters went out to eat in a Moroccan restaurant. I swear to you, even though the movie is in black and white, I could almost SMELL the aroma of the dishes. Around the same time I watched that movie, I also finally watched “Casablanca“, also set in Morocco.
Besides my love of old movies, I also have a love exploring different cultures, and trying new cuisines. So it’s no surprise viewing those two movies sparked my interest in Morocco. I think it sounds incredibly exotic & intriguing. After traveling to Haiti for a week, I think I’d be up for ANY country. What I love about different cultures and cuisines, is that each have their own unique flavors, smells, and textures. I adore immersing myself in all the sensual aspects of different cultures. From the obvious sights & sounds; to the smells & tastes, and how food actually feels, both in your hands and in your mouth.
Moroccan food is very distinct in it’s spices and flavors, as it’s a country that borders both Africa & Europe. Cumin, coriander, saffron, chiles, dried ginger, cinnamon, and paprika are common spices; and garlic, chiles, olive oil, and salt help round out the Moroccan flavor profile. Couscous (which I often enjoy) is a also typical Moroccan dish. While butternut squash may not be a typical Moroccan vegetable, it can still shine with the addition of Moroccan spices. This soup was spicy & sweet, and warm & comforting. I often find that coriander is one of those mysterious spices people can’t often put their finger on. And I think it gives this soup a unique flavor to set it apart from other pureed squash soups. Definitely a bright point on a cool day (which we haven’t had enough of here in Nashville!).
Moroccan Butternut Soup
Yield: 5 servings (serving size: 1 cup soup and 1 tablespoon sour cream)
1 (2-pound) butternut squash (I used a combination of butternut & acorn)
2 large garlic cloves, unpeeled
1 teaspoon curry powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
1/8 teaspoon ground red pepper
2 1/2 cups fat-free, less-sodium chicken or vegetable broth, divided
1/2 cup 1% low-fat milk
1/4 teaspoon salt
5 tablespoons reduced-fat sour cream (optional)
Fresh chopped cilantro (optional)
Preheat oven to 375°.
Pierce squash several times with the tip of a sharp knife. Microwave at HIGH 1 minute. Cut squash in half lengthwise; remove seeds and membrane with a spoon. Place butternut squash, cut sides down, and garlic cloves in a 13 x 9-inch baking dish coated with cooking spray. Pierce squash multiple times with a fork. Bake at 375° for 1 hour or until squash is very tender.
While squash bakes, place curry powder and next 3 ingredients in a small nonstick skillet over medium heat; toast 1 minute or until fragrant. Set aside.
Peel cooked squash, and place in a food processor or blender. Remove and discard skins from garlic; add garlic to food processor. Add 1 1/2 cups chicken broth, and process until smooth.
Transfer squash mixture to a large saucepan. Stir in remaining 1 cup broth, milk, salt, and toasted spices. Cook over low heat 2 minutes or until thoroughly heated, stirring frequently.
Ladle soup into bowls. Top with sour cream and cilantro if desired.
Calories: 113 Fat: 2.4g (sat 1.3g) Protein: 4.7g Carbohydrate: 21.3g Fiber: 3.3g Cholesterol: 7mg Iron: 1.3mg Sodium: 430mg Calcium: 131mg