Vegan Afro-Indian Kabocha Squash Soup for Autumn
This is a wonderful pureed vegetable or pureed veggie soup, depending on how you serve it, that is based on an African ground nut (pea nut) and squash soup I tasted way back in 1984 at The Prophet restaurant in Encinitas, California.
In Africa this soup would be made with boiled raw peanut and squash ground to a paste with African palm oil and herbs. I don't prefer peanuts, so I make it with either boiled raw almond or toasted almond butter or tahini. Tahini gives a creamier texture than almond butter, but it is a little bitter and not sweet like almond butter. Roasted almond butter has such a nice fragrance.
Once I made this with cashew butter, which was delicious--sweeter than almond, it gives a lighter color to the soup. You don't have to buy a whole bottle of cashew butter. Just boil a few tablespoons raw cashews with the squash and puree it. Very creamy and sweet.
I like to use Indian curry powder, or ground cumin, coriander and turmeric to increase the warming properties of this dish. Fenugreek is also excellent, but just a tiny bit, very bitter.
But one could make it very simple, with just onions, especially if having as a side dish with something else spicy.
Depending on my mood I may choose a spicy red onion or a sweet brown onion. But sauteeing the onion in oil brings out its sweetness, so I usually like the red onion, since the squash itself is already sweet.
You can also use other hard squashes. Kabocha is a dark and dense hard squash with the strong flavor to measure up to curry powder and almond. You can make a very mild version of this with just butternut squash, which has a more subtle delicate flavor, and sauteed white onion. There is an excellent giant squash you see at the Cuban market on Morena Blvd, and sometimes at the Indian market, almost silver on the outside and bright orange flesh. Banana squash is also very good.
You can also make this kind of dish with root vegetables: sweet potato, yam, carrot, parsnip, turnip all work very well. Sometimes i like to use a little turnip with the other veggies which are all sweet, to spice it up a bit. Or if i want it sweeter, like for kids, i add a sweet potato with the kabocha.
Occasionally I will add a little coconut milk to this dish, especially if my hand got heavy with the curry powder....Ghee is also a possibility. I never use cream or half and half, why would you need to? I have used soy milk, which is ok, but not as delicious as using nuts or coconut milk.
The basic principle is boil squash, saute onions with spices, add nut or seed paste, and voila. The secret to success is balancing the correct amounts of the ingredients.
Three cups of chopped Kabocha squash
One large red or sweet onion
2-3 cloves garlic, optional
2-3 slices raw ginger root
2 tsp curry powder, to taste
2 tbsp your favorite nut or seed or nut butter, as above
Sesame or any nut oil to saute onions. Palm oil gives a more Afrikan taste
Salt and white pepper to taste
Steam the squash, saving the steam water.
Cool and place squash in blender.
Saute onions with ginger till brown, lower the flame, add curry powder, and brown on very low for 3-5 minutes, taking care not to burn the spices.
Place all the ingredients in the blender or food processor and puree until smooth, adding the steam water if necessary to thin.
Enjoy as a soup (thinner), or as a vegetable side dish with wehani red rice, or any rice or cous-cous.
Perfect for Vata. Warming, sweet, unctuous. Leave out the pepper if unbalanced. Use a mild curry powder.
Good for Pitta if not too hot. Use raw, not roasted nuts. Coconut milk good.
Ok for Kapha if you leave out the nut butter. Make it spicy.
Copyright Eyton J. Shalom, M.S., L.Ac. San Diego, CA All Rights Reserved, Use With Permission
Ayurveda, Acupuncture, and Chinese Medicine in San Diego