Writings on curious recipes, food I've tasted around the world and the quest for finding the perfect blueberry muffin.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Chili and cumin spiced butternut squash and sweet potato soup

I kicked off the new year in India, surrounded by friends and family, to celebrate my brother's wedding. It was an amazing way to start off and by the time I had to leave, I really didn't want to go. I fell in love with Mumbai, its people, the flow of life, and, of course, the food. I must have eaten more sev puris than I could possibly count. If nothing else, I at least wanted to take the taste of India with me.

And so on my last day there, a friend and I hopped into a taxi and drove to Motilal Masalawala to load up on spices. We weren't planning on buying the whole shop, but in our grand fashion, we might have exaggerated. And ended up walking out of there with nearly every spice imaginable. 

On the plus side, I was finally looking forward to going back to London and heading back into the kitchen. Though I found that once back, I was no longer craving cool sev puris, but rather flavorful, dense soups more suitable for the British winter. Spicy and warming. And with an English touch - some butternut squash and sweet potatoes - along with garlic, fresh red chili, cumin and a pinch of chili pepper. 

Simple ingredients cooked up into something special and hot. So very, very hot - but nothing we couldn't handle with a crusty baguette by our side. And so we happily sat down and let the warmth and flavors of the soup transport us back to India. If only briefly.

Chili and cumin spiced butternut squash and sweet potato soup

Two notes.
1. This makes a very thick soup, exactly how I like them. If you want a thinner consistancy, you'll need to add more stock/water and adjust seasonings accordingly.
2. The heat of chilis and dried chili pepper varies immensely. Below, you'll find the quantities of chili and dried chili pepper I used for my soup. As stated above, the soup was QUITE spicy, possibly too spicy for many. So I strongly advise you to start with less fresh and ground chili and taste your way through. And if you end up making it too spicy, add some cream to mellow it out. Don't do spicy? Simply leave the chilis out - it will still be a lovely soup!


1 medium onion, diced
1 tablespoon sunflower oil
2 celery sticks, thinly sliced
3 cloves of garlic, crushed
1 to 2 red chillis, finely chopped (see note above)
350g butternut squash, about 2.5cm cubes
350g sweet potatoes, about 2.5cm cubes
1/4 teaspoon ground red chili pepper (note - that is not the same as chili powder! also: see note above)
1 teaspoon thyme
1 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
500ml good quality vegetable stock (no added salt) + 1 cup of water (well I ran out of vegetable stock - if you have more vegetable stock add that instead)
salt to taste

1 baguette, optional (but not really!)


In large pot over gentle heat sweat onion until nice and soft, about 15 minutes. Then add celery, garlic, chilis, butternut squash and sweet potatoes as well as the spices. Cook, stirring frequently for about 5 minutes. Add vegetable stock and about one cup of water (the liquid should cover all the vegetables) and simmer for 20 to 25 minutes, or till potatoes and butternut squash is soft. Remove pot from heat, let it cool slightly, then puree using an immersion blender or liquidizer. Taste and season with salt (and more spices if needed).



Anonymous said...

i'm going to try this recipe today..because you made it sound so hearty and cozy. i woke up early to frosty garden paths so it will be just the right soup for a wintery Saturday warm-up.

littlemissdids said...

Oh enjoy and please let me know how you like it! :)

cookingwithmarica said...

I love Indian food, I went to India last summer and I miss spicies food!!!

I'm going to Vienna and I found your usefull blog

Ciao Marica

littlemissdids said...

Thank you! I hope you enjoy Vienna - it's a wonderful city!

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