I love my sister's visits to my home in rural New Hampshire! She arrives in a rush, her dog Pippa in tow, loaded down with bags of goodies from Whole Foods in Cambridge. Let me hasten to add, I just love seeing her, as our visits are few and far between. But as soon as she steps in the door, I think she's as excited as I am with her exotic foodstuffs from the big city.
The last time she was here, she brought an assortment of the most marvelous cheeses from around the world. Our favorite was immediately clear: the goat's milk brie, which had us swooning. And the time before THAT, she arrived with an assortment of Indian spices, tucked up in pretty cardboard envelopes - along with soups and breads, ciders and sweets. Bless her heart. It was only last week I finally read the spice labels, and fortuitous it was - I had in mind a seasonal butternut squash and sweet potato soup, that cried out for much more than my usual thyme, nutmeg, and pepper seasoning. I grabbed an envelope and cut it open. A waft of pungent but aromatic spiciness enveloped and enticed me, so I plunged ahead with the usual soup-makings, toasting the spice in olive oil and onions, before adding the squash and sweet potatoes.
I finally put on my reading glasses and read: bhindi masala : ingredients, tumeric, red pepper, coriander, cumin ( CUMIN! - I love cumin!) salt, and other exotic seasonings. Go for it.
So I did, and it turned out to be a deliciously flavorful soup. Do try!
Makes two medium bowls of lovely soup.
2 T. olive oil
1 stick celery, sliced in 1 inch pieces
2 cups butternut squash, peeled , seeded and cut into 1-2 inch chunks
1 cup peeled sweet potato, cut into 1-2 inch chunks
1 medium onion, peeled and sliced
1 t. cumin
1 t. bhindi masala spice
1/2 t. thyme
2 1/2 cups vegetable stock
Heat the olive oil in a heavy bottomed pot over high heat.
Add the onion and the bhindi masala spice, the thyme and the cumin and stir for a minute or so.
Add the celery, butternut squash, and sweet potato and stir. Lower the heat to medium.
Add the vegetable stock and stir. Keeping heat at medium , let the vegetables cook until tender.
When the vegetables are tender, take the pot off heat.
Using a stick blender, puree the vegetables and taste. Add salt and pepper as wished at this point.
Serve with homemade croutons .( I used millet bread croutons, which were briefly toasted in a skillet with a little olive oil. Big mistake. I discovered I didn't like millet bread at all - but it's gluten free, so if you have to, go ahead)
If you don't have access to the bhindi masala spice, I would tinker around with cumin, cayenne, ground coriander, and tumeric. It lends a perfect heat and warmth to the squash and potato that is truly unique.
Hope you enjoy!