Tuesday, October 23, 2012
CURRIED BUTTERNUT SQUASH AND CORN CHOWDER
I do feel like I’m reaching max capacity for pureed orange vegetable soups here (five carrot, four butternut squash), but I have no recipes of any kind of that combine butternut squash with corn, and the juxtaposition intrigued me when I spotted this recipe (originally from Everyday Food) at Ezra Pound Cake. It seemed like the perfect transition food between summer and fall—which is finally, finally starting to happen here in SoCal.
The soup comes together like most other pureed vegetable soups, with a quick sauté followed by a boil in broth and then a spin in the blender, and I’m afraid that at first it tasted like any old soup to me, too. Many such recipes I’ve tried are perfectly adequate but never quite rise above the sum of their parts, and despite the presence of curry, which I’d been excited about, this one threatened to underwhelm. When I tasted it at the end, it needed something, so I squeezed in some lime juice, which was exactly the ingredient that revived the curried coconut carrot soup I tried last fall (and now adore). It really helped, but as I ate, even though A kept commenting how good it was (which is rare for him, with soups), I had already decided I wouldn’t make this recipe again; it was fine, but so similar to other recipes I make regularly, it just wasn’t worth it.
Then I ate the leftovers the next day and really actively liked them, not just tolerated them. If there had been more, I would have eaten it the next day, too. I know soup often tastes better the next day as the flavors develop and meld, but this was a dramatic improvement—or maybe I’d just been cranky and palate-distorted the night before. Now I’ll certainly make this again. It’s easy, it’s wholesome, it has a beautiful bright mustard-yellow color, and I love the unique texture; the corn kernels don’t quite blend smoothly, reminding me of a yellow lentil dal (I didn’t want to bother with only blending half the soup, so I just stuck my immersion blender in the pot but only blended semi-thoroughly, to simulate the same effect).
Aside from adding lime juice, the only changes I made were to use fresh corn instead of frozen (amazingly, corn is still in season here) and homemade chicken broth instead of vegetable broth.
2 tablespoons olive oil
1½ pounds butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into 1-inch chunks (about 5 cups)
1 medium onion, chopped
10 ounces fresh or frozen (thawed) corn kernels
1½ teaspoons curry powder
Kosher salt and ground pepper to taste
29 ounces (about 3⅔ cups) vegetable or chicken broth
½ cup heavy cream
Juice of 1 lime (optional)
¼ cup chopped fresh chives
1. In a large, heavy pot, heat oil over medium heat; add squash and onion. Cook until the onion is soft, about 6 minutes.
2. Add the corn and curry powder. Cook until you can really smell the curry, about 2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
3. Add the broth and simmer until the squash is tender, about 25 minutes.
4. Using an immersion blender, food processor, or countertop blender, blend half the soup until smooth. Return to pot and turn the heat down to medium-low.
5. Stir in the cream, along with the lime juice if desired, and let the soup get warm before serving (do not boil). Garnish with chives.
Time: 1 hour
Leftover potential: Great; tastes even better the next day, and would also freeze well.