Our friends Pat and Jim “squash bombed” us a few weeks ago. This was literally a baby sized squash 8 pounds and 20 inches long. I roasted it and used much of it in a mitzvah lasagna for a friend whose cancer has come back for the third time. I am using the rest in tonight’s soup.
As this is a Georgian feast I had to think how to make the soup “Georgian.” Two key ingredients of Georgian cooking are the spice blue fenugreek and matsoni, a thin yogurt. These are difficult to obtain outside of Georgia. Regular” fenugreek tastes almost the same as the blue, but is slightly stronger. Use one and a half teaspoons of spice if you make this dish with blue fenugreek.
Since I do not have a source for matsoni I decided to make my own. I took some “live” Greek yogurt and added some cream and milk. Letting this mixture sit at room temperature for a few hours and it ferments into a “thin mildly tart yogurt.” Since I have never had matsoni, I do not know if it tastes anything like the original, but it will have to do.
After Dinner Note: This soup turned out really well. It was very popular with my diners.
Karl’s Georgian Butternut Squash Soup
½ cup low fat milk
¼ cup Greek yogurt (live culture)
¼ cup cream
2 cups roasted butternut squash
2 Tbs. unsalted butter
1 medium red onion, chopped
Pinch kosher salt
1 small carrot, diced
1 tsp. fenugreek, ground
¼ tsp. black pepper
3 cups chicken broth
Pinch Hungarian paprika
1. Mix the milk, yogurt and cream in a bowl and let it sit at room temperature for at least three hours.
Tip: The longer the better.
2. Peel, seed and cut the butternut squash into one inch cubes. Toss the cubes in two tablespoons of oil mixed with 1 teaspoon of brown sugar. Spread on a baking tray in a single layer and roast at 400° F for 40-50 minutes, until starting to get some brown crispy bits. Use 2 cups for this recipe.
Tip: The rest of the roasted squash can be frozen for later use.
3. Melt the butter in a soup pot and sauté the onions with a pinch of salt, until just starting to pick up some color.
4. Add the carrots and continue sautéing for 3 more minutes.
5. Add the the spices to the pot and let them “bloom” for 30 seconds.
Tip: Letting the spices gook slightly in the oil brings out their full flavors.
6. Add the squash and 1 cup of the chicken broth. Reduce the heat and simmer for 15 minutes, until the carrots are tender.
7. Remove the pot from the heat and cool the contents by adding the second cup of chicken broth.
8. When the soup is cool enough to handle, process it in a standing blender until smooth.
Tip: You may have to do this in batches.
9. Return the soup to the pot and add the final cup of broth.
Tip: Use the broth to rinse the good stuff out the blender jar.
10. Simmer the soup for ten more minutes.
11. Remove the pot from the heat and let it cool slightly.
12. “Temper” the yogurt and then stir it in into the soup.
Tip: To “temper” yogurt means that you take a couple of tablespoons of the soup and mix it into the yogurt. This gradual warming prevents the yogurt from curdling when you stir it into the hot soup in the pot.
13. Stir in the yogurt mixture and serve garnished with a sprinkle of Hungarian paprika.