Bright green coriander chutney from a jar adds great color, tangy heat, and acidity to Coconut Squash Soup.
R.B. barked at me sometime during Nashville’s unbearably hot August, “I don’t care where we go for lunch as long as the place has good air conditioning!” R.B. tends to run hot. So it was a real buzz kill when we sat down in a booth at one of our favorite Indian restaurants and realized R. B. ‘s forehead was already dotted with beads of sweat even before we stepped up to the hot buffet. The beer just couldn’t get cold enough.
Only now that I’m wrapped up in my frumpy house sweater in a chilly office, do I realize how exhausted we had become managing the Nashville summer heat. When to exercise, mow the lawn, walk the dog, whether to leave the groceries in the car, plus how, what, and where to eat were all major decisions affected by the weather. The oppressive heat kept us far away from big steaming bowls of pho, one of our all-time favorite lunches. And R. B. had to put his foot down to hot oatmeal for breakfast. We were both having hot flashes. I know they say hot food is cooling, but I think it just makes you sweaty. I used to look forward to October first, my target date for unpacking the turtlenecks.
Early October doesn’t seem cool enough for that anymore, but at least a hot bowl of soup is starting to sound appealing, almost like a celebration for surviving another summer. Lounging around in my slippers and flannel soft pants by the fireplace holding a steaming mug of Cocosquash soup–now that sounds fun. The soup is perfect in it’s simplicity–autumn squash seasoned with onions, garlic, and cumin made velvety with coconut milk. Get with it on the coconut milk if you haven’t, it’s the new American pantry staple. The spicy, bright green coriander chutney spooned on top of the soup is definitely worth your refrigerator space. You’ll be spooning it on everything–and it might even warm you up a bit. Try it blended with mayonnaise. We predict it could be the next chipotle mayo.
Coconut Squash Soup
1 medium butternut or acorn squash
1 medium onion
2 tablespoons oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon cumin seed
1 can (about 14 ounces) coconut milk
Squeeze of fresh lemon juice
Indian coriander chutney or hot pepper sauce, to taste
Pierce the squash with a fork and place it in a deep casserole with a little water. Cover and microwave about 8 minutes or more until it is very soft. Cut it in half and scoop out the seeds. Scoop out the flesh and set aside while you cook the onion.
Saute the onion in the oil in a medium saucepan until softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in the garlic and cumin seed and continue to cook a few minutes more over medium heat.
Add the squash and coconut milk. Add enough water to loosen up the consistency. Simmer a few minutes. Add fresh lemon juice to taste.
Serve with a dollop of coriander chutney. Makes about 6 servings.