Something to agree upon

Dan and I, as different as we may seem, agree on most things.  We both love to travel and explore new restaurants.  We enjoy waking up early for a day of flea marketing and antiquing. We love whizzing through the city on our bikes or taking a stroll down town, not knowing where we might end up.  We both go ga ga over craft beer and adore exploring new wines. 

But for all that we agree upon, there are two very important things that we will never see eye to eye on.  The first being desserts.  I find much joy in a simple, delicious dessert to end a meal.  Dan, on the other hand, is not phased in anyway with my oohs and aahs as I fawn over the sweet confections.  He'd much prefer a second entree.  The second is soup.  Don't get me wrong, we both love soup.  However, Dan is rather particular over his.  Where I'm usually game for any soup placed in front of me, Dan tends to steer clear any soup that has been puréed.  I suppose he feels cheated in a way- having had to drink his meal rather than chew it.  It is unfortunate for him that the majority of the soups I make are puréed.

I've been trying to take his preference into consideration when I plan a soup, but some times one (i.e. Dan) must take one for the team (i.e. me).   When roasted butternut squash and curry and coconut milk are involved, I win.  Luckily for me, Dan also loves curry and coconut milk and though he hates, hates, hates butternut squash (particularly roasted.  This man needs an intervention!) he perked up when I mentioned my plan to make it. 

Dear curry and coconut milk:  I owe much gratitude to you two because we found a delicious, puréed soup (with butternut squash!!) that we both love, love, love.  Dan kept raving about how much he liked it and would eat it again. And again. And again. 

We've also come to agree that this little lady (right up there) is the absolute love of our life.  Her name is Heidi, and she is the newest addition to our little family.  We are head over heels in love with this darling and completely smitten.

Curried Butternut Squash Soup with Coconut Milk
 This recipe was inspired by similar soups found at Mango & Tomato and Skinny Taste.  It wasn't until I had made this soup a second time (yes, a second time - in one week) that I realized that Gina's soup (of Skinny Taste) was inspired by Olga's soup of Mango & Tomato.  Funny isn't it?  They both sounded delicious so I decided to unite them.  I added an apple, upped the curry amount, and added a squeeze of orange juice and zest to brighten all of the flavors.  

I ran most of it through the blender, leaving a cup or two as is.  This left little bits of apple in the soup that I really enjoyed.

2 tbs. olive oil
1/2 tsp. toasted cumin
1 1/2 tsp. garam masala
4 tsp. curry (or adjust to taste)
1/2 med. onion, chopped 
2 cloves of garlic, minced (I may or may not have added 4) 
1 inch of ginger root, peeled and smashed (optional)
1 med-large sized butternut squash
3/4 - 1 medium apple, chopped 
1 can (16 oz.) of coconut milk 
Salt & pepper, to taste
A few dashes of red pepper flakes, to taste (optional) 
4 cups of chicken or vegetable broth 

To begin, halve the butternut squash length wise, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt, roast in a 400 degree oven until tender (about 1 hour).  Meanwhile, infuse broth with ginger over a low heat.  

In a separate pan, heat olive oil.  Add onion, garlic and apple pieces.  Sautée until tender.  Add cumin, curry, garam masala and heat until fragrant.  Remove ginger pieces from broth and combine with spice mixture.  (This could be done in the same pot, - cooking onion and spice mixture and then adding broth and ginger- but be sure to place your ginger in cheese cloth or a tea egg in order to identify it from the apple bits, as it will need to be removed before adding the squash).

Once squash is fully roasted, remove from oven and let cool a bit. Resist chowing down on the delicious squash as is, and scoop tender flesh away from skin and place in broth mixture.  Add coconut milk and stir to combine.  Purée.  Add zest of 1/4 to 1/2 an orange and a few tablespoons of the juice.  Adjust to taste, but remember that the flavors will meld and develop over time, so go lightly.  Add red pepper flakes, if desired, and season with salt and pepper.

Serve with delicious crusty bread.  We paired this soup with a 2009 Gewürztraminer from  Palmer Vineyards that we picked up on a recent wine tasting journey through the North Fork wine region of Long Island.