Fall in northwest Montana is lovely. It's sunny and crisp and the smell in the air reminds me of Tuscany, slightly smokey yet damp and earthy. Now is the time that everyone starts thinking about soup. At Mrs. Wonderful's Cafe, once fall comes we start to make two soups for the day as people call and ask what soups we have and those who wander in are interested in something warm and filling.
Soups are really quite easy to make. Sometimes they are a little time consuming but they are so great to serve with a big piece of homemade bread. There is so much work to be done around the house and yard that having a big pot of soup can feed your crew for a few days.
Of course the traditional soups are great like chicken noodle and beef barley and creamy potato. But today I am thinking about squash. The local farmers have grown some really wonderful varieties like Kabocha that are so delicious and perfect to make soup with.
Here is my recipe for one of my favorite soups, Squash Berbere Soup. I hope you will try it and I hope you will have some time to enjoy the beautiful fall wherever you are. Enjoy!
I like to use all organic and non-GMO ingredients and local if possible.The fall markets are full of beautiful squash and any good winter squash will work with this recipe.
Berbere is a delightful Ethiopian mix of spices and it is available at most natural food stores. It is a Mrs. Wonderful’s favorite!
If you can’t find berbere you can easily substitute a curry( but it is worth finding berbers!). When adding spice I start with about two teaspoons of berbere or curry and then add up to two tablespoons to taste. It is always important to taste the food you are making so that you can add just the right amount of flavor for your liking. Let your taste buds be your guide!
Also, remember to use full fat coconut milk. It will smooth out the taste of the spice in your soup and give your soup a creamy texture. And don’t worry if you don’t have coconut milk, you can just eliminate it from the recipe and add a little extra broth and the soup will still be wonderful!
Winter Squash Berbere Soup by Mrs. Wonderful
4-5 pound winter squash - like Kabocha or 2 smaller squashes
2 tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil or good quality pure olive oil
1 tablespoon of butter (you can substitute with olive oil if you want to make it dairy free)
2 medium or 1 large onion chopped ( 2 cups)
4-5 fresh sage leaves chopped or 1 teaspoon dried sage
1 1/2 teaspoons of fresh thyme chopped or 1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 tablespoon of pure maple syrup
4-6 cups of vegetable broth ( you can use a really good boullion to make a broth if you don't have homemade)
1 16 oz can of full fat coconut milk (optional)
2 teaspoons to 2 tablespoons of Berbere Spice
1 1/2 teaspoons of Mrs. Wonderful’s Montana Blend Sea Salt w/ Herbs or sea salt
1/4 teaspoon of black pepper
First, roast the squash. I make it easy and puncture the squash with a sharp knife around the middle about 5-6 punctures. Place on a baking sheet and roast for about an hour until the squash collapses and a knife easily inserts into it. Take out and cool. Cut in half, remove seeds and then scoop out the flesh and reserve in a bowl.
Second, heat a large pot and add olive oil. Add butter and let melt and get hot. Then add onion, sage, thyme and let saute for a few minutes until the onions get soft. Add maple syrup and let meld with the onions for a minute or two over medium high heat. Add squash and mix. Add broth and bring to a simmer. Don’t boil! Let simmer for about 5 minutes.
Third, process the soup until smooth. Then return to pot.
Fourth, Add the berbere or curry, salt and pepper. Taste your creation! You can always add more spice at the very end so get it to a point where you think it tastes pretty good. If it needs more salt now is a good time to add it.
Then add the coconut milk and stir well. I like to use a whisk to get the coconut fat to quickly smooth out.
Fifth, taste again and add whatever else you might need to make it taste delicious and then serve!
Add some chopped basil or parsley on top just before serving.
You can make some crostata with some good bread or add some toasted pumpkin seeds.
Mary Frances Caselli is the founder and owner of Mrs. Wonderful. Along with her organic, local cafe and bakery in Polson, Montana, she makes gourmet sea salt herb blends, cooking sauce and offers exclusive food and wine tours to Tuscany and Napa. She would love to know how you enjoyed this recipe and is happy to answer any questions about food, wine and cooking! This recipe and all content is copyrighted by Mrs. Wonderful. To contact her and for more info go to www.mrswonderfulworld.com