Wednesday, November 24, 2010

A Little Comfort on a Cold Day

So, the weather has turned...  REALLY FREAKING COLD.  According to the weather guy, the temp hasn't been this cold here before Thanksgiving in about 17 years.  And we haven't had snow before Thanksgiving in about 30.  And of course, the snow didn't last long.  But the cold is still here.

With family coming in and a lot of prep work to do, I wanted something warm but quick.  This soup was just the ticket.

Butternut Squash and Coconut Bisque with Sesame Sticks and Candied Pepitas

1 Tbs. olive oil
1/2 sweet onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 bay leaves
1 tsp. ground ginger
1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
2 1/2 pound butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into chunks
1 tsp. Kosher or sea salt
1/4 tsp. white pepper
1/2 tsp. curry powder
2 cups low-sodium chicken stock
1 15-oz. can coconut milk (can use light if desired)
Toasted Pepitas for garnish (see recipe below)

Heat oil in a large soup pot over medium heat.  Add onion and sauté for 2 minutes and then add garlic.  Add the bay leaves, ginger nad red pepper.  Stir to combine.  Add the butternut squash and season with the salt, pepper and curry powder.  Cover with chicken stock, stir, and allow to come to a simmer.  Cook for about 10 - 15 minutes, or until squash is tender.

Remove bay leaves.  Transfer the entire mixture to a food processor or blender.  Pulse until mixture is the desired consistency.  Return to pot and add coconut milk.  Continue to cook another 10 minutes.

Garnish with toasted pepitas (see recipe) and serve with puff pasty sticks (see recipe).

Toasted Candied Pepitas

1 cup raw shelled pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
1 Tbs. butter
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1 Tbs. brown sugar
Cayenne pepper to taste

Heat oven to 400º.  Place butter on a cookie sheet and allow to melt in the oven as it's heating.  When butter has melted, remove the pan from the oven and pour pumpkin seeds into pan.  Sprinkle with cinnamon, brown sugar and cayenne (I was pretty liberal with the cayenne, which made the seeds pretty spicy for just munching, but they were perfect with the soup).

Spread seeds evenly over pan and return to oven.  Allow to toast for a couple of minutes.  The seeds will start to pop and will brown quickly, so keep a close eye on them!

Puff Pastry Stix with Sesame Seeds

1 sheet of puff pastry
Garlic powder
White and black sesame seeds

Prepare surface of counter with a little flour.  Unfold puff pastry and lightly roll just to take out the creases.  Flip over and repeat.

Sprinkle with the remaining ingredients and gently press into surface.  Bake in a 400º 10 - 15 minutes, or until a golden brown.

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