A Warming, Fortifying Soup for the Transition of Seasons
In Ayurveda, autumn is the season of ‘Vata’ – the ether/air-movement element that brings upon dryness, “rough” windiness, and dehydration. In traditional Chinese medicine dryness and wind impact the lungs and large intestine – both of which play a role in keeping our immune systems strong to fend off winter colds.
Bottom line, think moisture, more moisture, and warming, easily digested foods. Read: cooked/roasted veg, stews and casseroles, soups, warming liquids, nurturing and energizing, hearty breakfasts.
“Moisture” can flow not only from warm liquids, but also conveys unctuousness — good and healthful warming, grounding fats. Think bone broth, coconut oil, coconut milk, nuts, seeds, tahini, sesame oil just to name a few. In the first few weeks of autumn, my body naturally starts asking for dishes like roasted winter squashes and pumpkins, warming spices, coconut milk-based curries and stews, sauteed greens, roasted root vegetables, simmered beans and legumes and more. We’re simply balancing out the crisp, airy chill with grounding warmth. So less cold food and drinks, salads, raw veg, more warm foods and drinks. Here’s a nice soup to start off the seasonal switch (and use up any leftover summer tomatoes you might have lying around!).
WARMING BUTTERNUT SQUASH SOUP WITH TOMATO & GINGER
*a quick note – I developed this soup for restaurant quantities (and metric measurements), so I’ve dialed down the amounts a little and tried to estimate the measurement conversions, so bear with me! Also, this recipe will still make a good bit of soup (like 3 quarts worth)- freeze it!! Oh, it’s also vegan, dairy-free and gluten-free. You’re welcome. 😉
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large or 2 medium yellow onion, diced (350g)
1 XL or 2 medium-large butternut or kabocha squash, peeled, seeded and diced (1250g)
1 large knob fresh ginger, peeled and minced (112g)
10-12 cloves garlic, minced (100g)
1 jalapeño or serrano, seeded and minced
1 tablespoon fenugreek seed, toasted and ground
1 tablespoon coriander seed, toasted and ground (ground coriander is just fine)
1 1/2 teaspoons tabel spice blend *see note below
3/4 of 1 28oz can of whole tomatoes (so about 21 ounces) or about 500g fresh tomatoes – *if using fresh tomatoes, make an ‘x’ on one side of the skin, blanch tomatoes for 2 minutes and peel them. Obviously the canned version is far easier, but….
2 16 oz cans coconut milk (full-fat!)
1 1/2 quarts water
1 small bunch cilantro, roughly chopped
2 Persian dried limes *optional – see note below
salt to taste
Sauté onion and squash in olive oil over medium heat for 5-7 minutes . Add ginger, garlic, all spices and jalapeño, saute for another 2-3 minutes. Add in tomatoes, coconut milk, water, cilantro, dried limes and salt. Adjust heat to medium-high, stir, bring to a boil, lower heat to low and simmer until squash is completely soft and flavors have melded, about 45-60 minutes. Adjust salt if needed. Remove Persian dried limes (or fresh lime). Allow to cool slightly. Blend soup in a blender, Vitamix, food processor or using a hand-blender until nice smooth.
Garnish with cilantro and spritz of fresh lime if you fancy.
*Dried lime note: these will add a lovely tangy-sour note to the soup, they’re found in spice shops and Middle Eastern specialty stores or online. If you don’t want to invest in them, try adding 1 lime, halved, into the soup for the final 20 minutes of cooking – squeeze the juice into the soup and then drop the whole lime into the soup)
*Tabel (or tabil) is an aromatic, lightly smokey spice blend from Tunisia and Algeria-VERY warming and warning, can be quite piquant depending on the blend. SOS Chefs makes my favorite blend (likely because the owner Atef is Tunisian), but you can also make your own blend…a mix of coriander, caraway, chili pepper and garlic powder — sometimes cumin, turmeric, rose or cloves are added