Since I turned vegetarian a year back, I had much difficulty adjusting my diet to ensure that I got enough iron and protein which I earlier received from fish, poultry, meat and eggs from non animal sources. Though I am not vegan, I am lactose intolerant to some extent. I can eat yogurt and certain types of ripened cheese but no milk, butter and the likes. Hence it became doubly difficult to consume the suggested daily iron intake. Inevitably, I who always had above normal hemoglobin percentage was diagnosed with anemia eight months into my restricted diet.
I was asked to consume large amounts of spinach, tofu and dried beans every day. After a month of Indian daals, spinach soup and tofu salad, I had to find innovate new ways to cook these for my food lust. A friend sent me to 101 cookbooks and among scores of nutritious veggie recipes; I found adzuki butternut squash soup.
I didn’t know what adzuki was nor did I want to go to the store to buy a new kind of bean when I already had enough jars of them to last me a year. Thus I did what I have learnt to do well. I substituted adzuki with regular kidney beans or rajma. The butternut squash, kidney beans and cinnamon blend for a robust and very holiday-ey flavor.
After the initial attempt which we both liked, I added to and subtracted from the original recipe to create a soup that can give chicken noodle soup tough competition in the comfort food category even for meat loving N. On a cold fall evening, this soup will warm your body and soul.
Taking another giant step in the world of cookery bloggery, this soup is going to Susan's MLA-17, hosted by Sra of When My Soup Came Alive.
Butternut Squash and Kidney Bean Soup
Butternut squash - 2 cups, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch dice (about half a normal size squash)
Kidney beans - 2 cups, canned or cooked
Red onions - 1 medium, finely chopped
Tomatoes - 1 finely chopped
Garlic - 4 cloves, minced
Dried red chili - 3, crushed
Coriander seeds - 1 tsp, coarsely crushed
Cinnamon - 1tsp
Oil - 2 tbsp (I use canola)
Salt - 1 tsp (fine grain sea salt is recommended but if you don't have it use regular table salt)
Water - 3 cups
Smoked paprika/ roasted chili flakes - 1/2 tsp or to taste
Roasted almond slivers - 1tbsp
Goat cheese - 1 tbsp, crumbled
- Heat oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add cinnamon, coriander seeds, chilies and salt and saute until aromatic.
- Add onions and saute to golden.
- Add garlic, tomatoes and butternut squash, stir well, and then add 3 cups of water. Bring to a rolling boil, and once boiling, reduce heat, cover, and simmer for a few minutes, until the squash begins to soften about 8-10 minutes.
- Once the squash has softened, mash the squash pieces a bit with either a masher or the back of a ladle.
- Add the beans and cook a couple more minutes. Check for salt and add more if needed. Remove from heat.
- Serve garnished with smoked paprika, roasted almonds and crumbled goat cheese. Of course, I give the cheese a miss but N says it goes very well with the sweetness of the soup.
Serves - 4
Suggestion: Everybody, including trained chefs have a tough time peeling hard skinned squashes. If you find peeling the squash extremely difficult and frustrating, bring a large pot of water to boil. The pot should be large enough to hold a whole squash without water flowing over. Submerge the squash in boiling water for 2-3 minutes. This will soften the skin and the meat just beneath the skin will get cooked making it easier to cut and peel the skin off.