"I think it's nice that there are all different kinds of lunches and breakfasts and dinners and snacks. I think eating is nice." – Albert from Bread and Jam for Frances, by Russell C. Hoban
Orange soup. In Israel, it’s a given during the winter. Filling, tasty and easy on the pocket, winter squash works well in a variety of soups, from chunky versions with white beans and greens (I’ll post that one day) to pureed versions that can be curried, or spiced, or one of my favorites, cooked with a bit of aged parmesan rind for a flavorful and slightly cheesy taste. Make sure to salt and pepper well, or add in that necessary squeeze of lemon juice so that the flavors are bold and bright like the color of the soup.
I had seen a recipe for a roasted carrot soup in a magazine that looked interesting. The vegetables were roasted, seasoned and pureed and served with a tasty topping of spiced nuts. I combined squashes – you can choose your favorites of course – along with some carrots and tossed red pepper (critical for flavor), fennel (you could use celery or leave it out) and turnips in so as to develop the flavor (less critical), with lots and lots of garlic (you could use less).
The finished product is colorful, with a sophisticated, roasted flavor that’s a nice change of pace. I strongly recommend that you top it with a bit of dairy – if you want to keep it vegan, drizzle chili oil or basil oil – and the toasted nuts, which cut through the strong flavor the roasted vegetables and the garlic, adding a nice flavor note of their own.
Roasted Winter Squash and Pepper Soup
Butternut squash, 2, peeled, seeded and chopped, about 4 kilo
Dlat (pumpkin), peeled, seeded and chunked, about 2 kilo
Fennel – 2, halved and sliced
Carrot, 4, chunked
Red pepper, 3, seeded and chopped
Onions, 3, halved and sliced
Garlic, 1 head, separated, skinned and roughly chopped
Turnips, 2, halved and sliced
Extra virgin olive oil
Coarse salt and pepper
4 cups of water
1/3 cup white wine, or apple juice or a bit of both
1 lemon squeezed
Drizzle thinned greek yogurt (a bit of water of lemon juice). Keep it vegan with a drizzle of a flavored oil, like chili or basil oil.
Toasted sunflower and pumpkin seeds – roast them with some paprika, cumin and hot pepper flakes.
A drizzle of hot chili oil on top of the yogurt could also be fun.
Preheat the oven to 400.
On parchment lined baking trays, pile together the vegetables for roasting. Group the turnip and winter squashes together – this amount will take 2 trays. The pepper, garlic, onion and fennel can go on the 3rd tray. Drizzle with 2-3 tbsp of olive oil. Sprinkle with coarse salt and a few grinds of pepper. Cover with foil and roast.
Roast for approximately 45 minutes, stirring every 15 and swapping oven trays if anything is browning too quickly. Uncover after 30 minutes, when things are beginning to brown on their undersides and are steamed up and a bit juicy from being covered. Let them brown a bit more the last 15 minutes but no burning – just a bit more of browning.
Puree in batches, making sure to use all the roasting juices on the pans, or use a stick blender and add liquid as needed – make it as thick or thin as you want but not too thin. Correct the salt and pepper and add lemon juice. Heat gently before serving with a swirl of yogurt and a sprinkling of toasted seeds.