Red Bell Pepper and Butternut Squash Soup with Fresh Ginger
It was just a coincidence that on Monday I made a meatless meal. I have reached a non-critical but still punishing level of pork-fatigue, and this happens to be coinciding with the exhaustion from thinking up ways to utilize the weekly share of vegetables as we enter the waning dog days of our summer CSA program. Over the past couple of weeks, we’ve been receiving butternut squash, red bell peppers, and eggplant in our box, which recently led to roasted butternut squash, roasted eggplant, and glazed home-cured Guanciale served over a Lebanese dish of green lentils, the recipe for which I found in Saveur. This week, however, I wanted something a little easier, a one-pot kind of a meal. Although I traditionally reserve making butternut squash soup for the fall (since it tends to be a heartier dish), the addition of Granny Smith apple, fresh ginger, and red bell peppers lightened up a version of a Moroccan influenced soup I’ve been making for years. Typically, this soup has russet potatoes, acorn squash, and chickpeas. Also, it is usually only partially blended. This summery incarnation was further brightened by a condiment of sour cream, Greek yogurt, fresh lime juice, and whole whipping cream, seasoned with fresh thyme and kosher salt. To add texture and more depth to the pepper flavors of the soup, I used pepitas and shichimi tōgarashi as additional garnishes. The bread is Marc Vetri’s recipe for Rustic Italian loaf.
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp unsalted butter
1 large yellow onion, diced
2 red bell peppers, seeded and diced
2-inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and minced
2 cloves of garlic, peeled and minced
1 Granny Smith apple; peeled, cored, and diced
1 butternut squash; peeled, seeded, and cut into 1-inch cubes
16 oz can of diced tomatoes
6 cups vegetable stock
1 tbsp ground cumin
1 tsp chili powder
1/4 tsp ground white pepper
1/8 tsp ground cayenne pepper
1 tbsp dried oregano
8 sprigs of fresh thyme, tied
2 tsp kosher salt, or to taste
1/4 cup sour cream
1/4 cup plain Greek yogurt
juice from half of a lime
1 tbsp heavy whipping cream
1/2 tsp honey
kosher salt, to taste
fresh thyme leaves, to taste
For the soup, heat the oil and butter over medium heat, and then add the diced onion. Sauté for 4 minutes, stirring occasionally, and then add the diced bell peppers. Continue cooking for 4 more minutes and then add the apple, ginger, and garlic. Once the garlic becomes fragrant (not burnt), add the can of tomatoes and the spices and herbs. Mix. Add the butternut squash and stock. Bring to boil and then reduce to a simmer. Cook covered until the squash becomes tender (about 30 minutes). When the squash is cooked, remove the tied bunch of thyme stems and blend the soup thoroughly. I prefer to use a hand blender.
For the condiment, mix all of the ingredients together in a bowl.
Below is a picture of the lentil dish mentioned earlier.
The recipe for these Lebanese lentils comes from Saveur, Issue #132, and it was submitted to them by the poet Carolyn Forché. It can be found here. I adapted the recipe a bit, using a mix of Italian and purple basil instead of mint and substituting roasted for sautéed garlic. I used the lentils as a base for roasted butternut squash, roasted eggplant, and glazed home-cured shortcut Guanciale à la Marc Vetri. The glaze is reduced red wine and honey in the Guanciale roasting pan, along with dried oregano and crushed garlic.