Friday, November 2, 2012

Vegan Roasted Carrot and Kabocha Squash Soup

The LA weather is SO WEIRD. Three days in the low 60s are often followed by three days in the upper 80s, so I have to cram in as much autumnal cooking as I can on those cool nights. 

Last night I had such a craving for soup. I had carrots, a beautiful kabocha squash, and a can of coconut milk, and I decided to make this deliciously creamy vegan roasted carrot and kabocha squash soup. The ginger, lemongrass, and coconut milk in the broth give it an added complexity and make it taste vaguely Thai. Which is always a good thing!

First, I washed and cut the carrots, and cut the kabocha squash in half and removed the seeds. Kabocha squash is also known as "Japanese Pumpkin." It's very sweet and flavorful, and has a tang to it that reminds me a little bit of a honeydew melon. The seeds are delicious roasted, with much more meat than pumpkin seeds. I drizzled the carrots and the kabocha squash with olive oil and sprinkled with salt and pepper.
I also took a whole head of garlic, chopped off the top, drizzled it with olive oil, sprinkled with salt and pepper, and wrapped it up in some tinfoil. I then roasted everything in a 400° oven for about 40 minutes (until the carrots were browned and soft).
In the meantime, I sauteed half an onion over medium-low heat until slightly caramelized.
Meanwhile, I also seasoned the broth. To 6 cups of vegetable stock I added 3 sprigs of thyme, one stalk of lemon grass cut into 2-inch long pieces and bruised and 2 inches of ginger, sliced. I boiled these in the broth for about 45 minutes while the carrots and squash were roasting, then strained it.
After the kabocha squash, carrots and garlic had been taken out of the oven and the squash was cool enough to handle, I added them to the broth. I scooped the soft flesh out of the squash and squeezed the garlic out of its paper.
 The soup isn't exactly pretty before you puree it.
I added 1 can of light coconut milk, 1 tsp coriander, a pinch of brown sugar, salt, and pepper. I brought the mixture to a simmer and cooked until the carrots were very soft. Then, I let the soup cool before pureeing in batches in my blender. After all of the soup was pureed, I added it back to the pan and heated it up.

Vegan Roasted Carrot and Kabocha Squash Soup

1 bunch small carrots, or about 5 large carrots, cut into 2-inch slices
1 small kabocha squash, seeded
1 head of garlic
1/2 onion, sliced
1 stalk lemongrass, cut into 2-inch slices
3 sprigs of fresh thyme
2-inch piece of fresh ginger, sliced
6 cups vegetable stock
1 can light coconut milk
1 tsp coriander
pinch of brown sugar
olive oil

1. Preheat oven to 400°
2. Wash carrots and cut into 2-inch slices. Drizzle with salt and pepper and add to a roasting pan.
3. Cut the kabocha squash in half, remove the seeds, drizzle the flesh with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Add to roasting pan with carrots.
4. Cut top off of a head of garlic. Sprinkle with olive oil, salt and pepper. Wrap in foil.
5. Roast the veggies and garlic for 40-45 minutes, or until carrots are caramelized and mostly soft.
6. While vegetables are roasting, saute 1/2 of a sliced onion over low heat until lightly caramelized.
7. Meanwhile, season the vegetable stock. Add the thyme, ginger, and lemongrass stalk to the broth, and boil for about 45 minutes. Strain.
8. Remove vegetables from oven. When squash is cool enough to handle, scoop out the flesh and add it to the broth, along with the carrots. Squeeze the roasted garlic from its paper and add it to the broth as well.
9. Heat the broth over medium. Add 1 can light coconut milk, 1 tsp coriander, a pinch of brown sugar, salt and pepper. Bring to a simmer and taste for seasoning.
10. When the carrots are very tender, turn off the heat and let the soup cool for a few minutes.
11. Puree in batches in a blender (be careful doing this, as the steam from hot foods can blow the cover off of the blender, as I sadly know from experience. Take the circular cap off of the blender top, and cover the top with a dishtowel. This will keep the mixture from splattering your kitchen, but will allow enough steam to escape to avoid a messy explosion).
12. Reheat in the pot until warm. Garnish with fresh herbs and enjoy!

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