In this sunny, gorgeous weekend, I’m thrilled to join the group event Soup Saturday. This month our assignment was designed by Kathy from A Spoonful of Thyme, and she chose International Soups as the theme. I considered visiting my home country, but for some reason lately I’ve been absolutely mesmerized by all things Middle Eastern. Their spices, their sweets, their teas, they all fascinate me. After intense research, I went with a comforting butternut squash soup.
PERSIAN BUTTERNUT SQUASH SOUP
(adapted from The Saffron Tales)
for the soup:
2 tbsp sunflower oil
1 medium shallot, finely chopped
¼ tsp coriander seeds
¼ tsp cumin seeds
1 butternut squash, cut in chunks
2 dried limes
3 cups water
1 tablespoon butter
2 tablespoons yogurt
1 tbsp pomegranate molasses
salt and black pepper to taste
pomegranate seeds (optional)
toasted sunflower seeds
Heat the sunflower oil in a large saucepan. Add the shallots and cook gently until soft and fragrant. Toast the coriander and cumin seeds in a small pan over low heat for a minute, then grind them with a pestle and mortar. Reserve. Add the butternut pieces to the pan with the sautéed shallot, then sprinkle the toasted ground spices, and stir well. Close with a lid and simmer for 5 minutes or so.
Pierce the dried limes with a fork a few times and add to the pan. Pour in the water, cover, and cook for around 20 minutes more, or until the squash is tender, easily pierced with a fork. Meanwhile, prepare the seed topping by toasting the sunflower seeds in a small pan for a few minutes. Transfer to a bowl to cool. When the squash is cooked, squeeze the dried limes against the side of the pan with a wooden spoon until they burst, releasing a lot of liquid. Remove the limes and discard them. Add the contents of the pan to a blender, and process until very smooth. With the blender running, add the butter, yogurt, and pomegranate molasses. Add salt and pepper, taste and adjust seasoning.
Ladle the soup into a bowl and top with yogurt, pomegranate seeds, and toasted sunflower seeds.
to print the recipe, click here
Comments: This soup won my heart. I feel like hosting a dinner party simply to serve soup shots to my guests as they arrive, and this would be it. I find soup shots quite elegant, but of course they would be more appropriate on cold evenings, and those are ready to go into my rear view mirror. I am about to survive another winter, can you imagine the thrill of it? Anyway, this soup uses one unusual ingredient, dried lime. Together with celery root, dried limes will scare little kids and impressionable adults. But be brave, hold one by one in your hand, go at them with the fork, and once they simmer, they release the most amazing citric flavor. Trust me, you need to bring dried limes to your kitchen. And a mortar and pestle, while you’re at it. I normally would use a spice grinder, but adding the hot spices to the mortar while the smoke is still going up, then grinding them manually, is so rewarding! You catch the aromas as the spices grind, you can control how fine or coarse you want them. A perfect culinary experience.
If you’d like to see what other members of the Soup Saturday made for this month’s assignment, click on the link at the end of the post, I am looking forward to a tour around the globe in soup form…
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