Curried roasted butternut squash soup

Time flies by so fast, doesn't it! It seems hardly a few weeks ago when the leaves started turning red and the chilly fall winds were blowing and now, look, end of winter is already in-sight (well, a bit distant sight.. but in sight neverthless, right!)! I know, I know, many of you particularly on the east coast are battered with snow storms after snow storms, but hey, look at the brighter side, there are just ten some weeks for us to endure these wintry days... I thought of this while on my morning stroll on a chilli Saturday morning (dreaming of the hot cup of coffee waiting for me at home - goes without saying :D). If a mere thought can make you warmer, happier then this was it...  but the next moment I was like what about all those winter vegetables that I planned to try this season? Back in November it seemed there was forever to try the winters bounty but with February halfway gone it sure feels like looking from the 'other' side of the winter :)  So in the next few weeks I am going to squeeze in some last minute winter's vegetables that I wanted to cook this season starting with butternut squash today.
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Butternut squash is one of the squashes of the winter squash family. The outside is pale yellow in a bell shaped curve while the insides are deep orange. The deeper the flesh, the riper and sweeter is the taste! It has a sweet nutty taste and is not stringy at-all making it ideal for soups and gratins. In flavor I felt butternut squash was more like a mix of pumpkin and sweet potato. It is an excellent source of phytonutrients, vitamins A and C and anti-oxidants.
Due to its starchy texture the soup was very thick and creamy (without adding any cream!). I experimented with flavors a bit by adding curry powder and was immensely happy with the results. The soup had a slight curry edgy byte to it while you certainly feel much needed warmth while sipping on cloves, ginger, chili and black pepper. Cardamom adds this nice twinge that makes me people go.. hmm, what is it! I added sugar at the end to balance all the flavors. 

Anyway, without further ado here is my curried roasted butternut squash soup.

1 butternut squash
3C water
1 small onion
1 green chili - de-seeded and chopped
1 small clove of garlic - minced
1/2inch piece of fresh ginger - chopped
1 carrot
2 celery sticks

1/2tsp good quality curry powder (or garam masala)
1/2tsp paprika
1 bay leaf
1tsp sugar
dash of cinnamon and nutmeg
1 cardamom pod - crushed
olive oil, salt & pepper
(adjust all the seasonings per taste)

Garnish: toasted coconut flakes or toasted almond slices

  1. Preheat oven to 425F. Cut the squash in half. Remove the seeds. Cut the squash halves into 3 large pieces each.
  2. Place the squash pieces skin-side down on a cookie sheet lined with aluminum foil (picture above). Drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper.
  3. Roast for 45-60mins or so until the squash is tender and the flesh is caramelized.
  4. Remove squash from oven. Let it cool down enough to handle. Remove the peels and cut the squash into byte sized cubes (squash is much easier to cut and peel when its tender after roasting).
  5. Heat 1Tbsp olive oil in a soup pot. Add chopped onions, deseeded and chopped chili, ginger, garlic, carrots and celery. Cook for a few minutes.
  6. Add squash pieces, 3C water and the rest of the spices. Stir well and let cook (covered) for 15-20 mins.
  7. Remove from heat. Remove the bay leaf. Using an immersion blender or a regular blender puree the soup. (The soup will be on the thick side due to the squash; you can always add more water now if you want a thinner soup)
  8. Taste, adjust the seasonings and serve! You can garnish with some toasted coconut flakes, toasted almond slices, croutons or just some plain cream or olive oil. Serve warm.