Don’t you hate when you see something really amazing- like maybe washboard abs or a particularly lovely French macaroon — and then you find out how difficult it is to achieve it?
Don’t you then feel annoyed by the amount of effort that is asked of you, and give up before you even started?
Me, too. And I guess that’s why so many people look at cookbooks or recipes on-line– but such a small percentage of that group actually makes those recipes.
I’m the weird kind of hybrid cook that combines manic perfectionism with unpardonable laziness.
I’ll think nothing of trying to perfect some recipes, spending hours on end working through pounds of butter and more than a dozen eggs to get the end result I’m looking for (like these chocolate chip cookies).
Occasionally, however, I’ll look at the simplest of recipes (say buttermilk mashed potatoes ) and think,” Eh, so much work! I’ll just have some Ruffles and call it good.”
Now that I’ve revealed my proclivity towards shortcuts, hopefully you’ll believe me when I claim I’ve hit paydirt with the easiest soup ever.
I’ve cracked the code on a delicious but effortless soup, and I really couldn’t be more excited.
No cook-top tending.
No sink full of dishes that bare the traces of the soup’s various stages.
In other words, a slam dunk no-brainer.
And no, smarty pants — this isn’t some clever crock pot recipe that sounds good on paper except for the fact that it requires you to start your food many hours ahead of the time you want to eat (I can’t be the only one that doesn’t follow a meal plan each night and often creates stuff on the fly).
Also, I find that so many slow-cooker recipes taste pallid because they don’t call for any sauteeing or braising (eliminating those delectable caramelized flavors), or if they do, you’re stuck with as many dishes as a straight up braise — only now you have to wait a good long time for your food (exceptions exist — I can’t wait to show you my Indian chicken).
I started this soup at eleven a.m. and was eating it at lunch — including time to preheat the oven.
Roasted Curried Butternut Squash Soup.
It’s vegan (if you want – just substitute water or more coconut milk for the chicken stock).
And curried (which adds an unexpected exotic earthiness) with an extra bit of turmeric (which allegedly is a health wunderkind).
It has butternut squash (because when it’s roasted, it’s particularly scrumptious and packed with nutrients).
And perhaps best of all, it’s all cooked in one pan.
Which means you can sit pretty and relax.
Put away everything but a cutting board, a big casserole dish and a blender — you won’t be needing other pans or fancy utensils.
Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.
Chop into same sized chunks: butternut squash, chopped potatoes, an apple, and an onion.
Add spices, a little olive oil and aggressively season with salt and pepper here.
Toss these together right into the pan in which will roast — unless you like washing dishes and would feel better if you’ve dirtied a bowl (and then by all means, go ahead).
Here’s the great part.
Sit back. Read a book. Check Facebook, or Instagram, or Words with Friends (or insert favorite time suck) and relax — your buddy the oven is doing all the heavy lifting for you.
This is what they look like when they’re done roasting (give them a couple minutes more if they’re not yet fork tender).
Puree the contents of this pan in a blender with one can of chicken stock (or water) and one can of coconut milk.
If you have a cup or two of cooked rice on hand (I had brown rice leftover from last night), all the better. If you don’t, no worries.
I added in green onions as an afterthought — it was either add them to the soup or watch them slowly go south — and I liked the kick they added to the end result.
Season to taste with lemon juice, chili-garlic sauce (optional but why not?), and a bit more salt and pepper to taste.
And then guess what?
All your work was done in here without any big assist from you (if I was really smart, though, I would have put foil down).
Your hands-off cooking has resulted in sublime roasted vegetables, and then, with a flip of a blender switch, the most amazing roasted butternut squash soup.
Roasting not only caramelizes the sugars in the squash and onions, it allows the intense flavors of curry, turmeric and garlic to blossom — and then soften.
The little bit of potato adds a velvety, silken quality to the soup and the apple adds a touch of sweetness, a respite from the heat of your favorite hot sauce.
The end result is one that tastes like it has simmered all day on a pot that required constant tending to — not something that was just thrown into the oven, ignored and then pureed.
Feeling a little guilty about how little effort I’d made, I whisked together a little Greek yogurt with a splash of milk for optimal dollop consistency and cut up a couple of THE BEST HAZELNUTS to be had anywhere.
I love you, Freddy Guys.
And because I wanted to really work up a sweat, I threw a slice of one of my favorite breads in the toaster oven.
Crazy good — but ridiculously easy.
So long live benign neglect — and its occasional handsome rewards.
- 1½ lbs. (4 cups) cubed butternut squash ((I used half of one large)
- 1 lb. potato, cut into same sized cubes
- 1 Granny Smith apple, peeled and cut into chunks
- 1 onion (your choice, I used yellow), cut into chunks
- 1 large shallot, cut into quarters
- 2 Tbs. vegetable, coconut or canola oil
- 1 Tbs. curry
- 1 tsp. turmeric
- 1 tsp. garlic powder or 3 whole garlic cloves
- 1-14 oz. can chicken stock (or about 2 C. homemade)
- 1-14 oz. can coconut milk
- juice of ½ lemon
- 2 cups of cooked rice (optional)
- 1 tsp. chili-garlic sauce or hot sauce of your choice (optional)
- Optional Garnish: chopped roasted hazelnuts and either goat cheese or diluted Greek yogurt
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
- Put squash, potato, apple, onion and shallot (and fresh garlic if you're using that) in medium sized roasting pan or Pyrex dish.
- In small bowl, add oil, curry, turmeric, garlic powder and whisk with fork. Drizzle this over your vegetables and toss. Salt and pepper aggressively.
- Roast in oven until fork tender (depending on your oven and size of chunks), about 35 minutes.
- Puree in blender (or use immersion blender) with chicken stock, coconut milk, lemon, chili-garlic sauce. If using rice, add now and heat through. Taste for salt and pepper and add more if necessary.
- If you want to make yourself really happy, garnish with roasted hazelnuts and a dollop of yogurt or goat cheese.