A Good Autumn Soup

by NAA

One of the many things I love about living in Austria is the cultural importance of home-grown foods, small-scale farming and seasonal cuisine. We expats have no choice but to fall in line, as our markets only offer what’s fresh and local. Not that I mind in the least. I strongly prefer a seasonal, local approach to food, and living where this concept is a given makes my life much easier (and healthier, and more environmentally friendly).

Right now, the markets are brimming with colorful winter squashes in all shapes and sizes. I could not resist. Instead of carving pumpkins for Halloween, I carved up and roasted a butternut squash for a hearty fall soup.

Loaf of RoggenbrotThe soup is simple, fresh and seasonal, with both Vegan and Carnivorous options. We enjoyed this particular batch with a fresh loaf of Roggenbrot from the corner bakery and some hot roasted chestnuts from the kiosk across the street. A sound decision, if you ask me.

(Unfortunately, I didn’t get photos of the soup, as we polished it off rather quickly. The next batch will have its own photo shoot, and today’s top model will have to be the Brot.)

Curried Butternut Squash Soup

2 TBSP vegetable oil

2 tsp. curry powder (or one tsp. each ground coriander and cumin, if you don’t have the curry powder)

1 large yellow onion, chopped

3 apples, cored, peeled and chopped

1 butternut squash (squash : apple ratio should be about 2 : 1)

1 carrot, peeled and chopped

4 TBSP apple cider vinegar

2 cups veggie stock (Vegan version) or chicken stock (Carnivore version)

2 skinless, bone-in chicken breasts (Carnivore version)

Fresh cilantro (for garnish)

Salt and pepper (to taste)

First roast your butternut squash. You can boil it or steam it, but the flavor will be much, much better if roasted. To roast, cut the squash in half lengthwise and place flesh-side down in a lightly oiled oven dish. Roast for about 45 min to 1 hour (depends on size) at 375 F (about 200 C).

While the squash is roasting, add oil, onion and curry powder to a large stock pot. Stir to coat the onions in oil and spice, then crank the heat up until it sizzles. Once the onions start sizzling, turn the heat to low and let them simmer for 10 – 15 minutes (stirring occasionally).

To the pot, add apples, carrot, chicken (Carnivore version), vinegar and stock. Turn the heat up to medium and let this simmer with the lid on for about 5 minutes. Add stock and let simmer at least 10 minutes, or until your squash is roasted. Its okay if this simmers for a while, as you want the apples and carrots to soften considerably.

Remove the squash from the oven and scoop out the seeds and stringy bits. Next, spoon out bite-sized chunks of the flesh and add them to the simmering pot of soup.

Add some water (half to a full cup or so; enough to get it back to a soupy consistency) and let it cook down to a thick, stew-like consistency (10-20 minutes). Add salt to taste.

Vegan version:  At this point, you could puree the whole thing for a nice, thick soup, or leave it chunky as more of a stew-style dish.

Carnivore version: Your chicken will fall off the bone as you stir. Not to worry, as this will add some excellent flavor. Just be sure to warn your guests about the bones!

Serve with a garnish of cilantro leaves and cracked black pepper.

For a little variety you could also try pears instead of apples, and maybe a little cinnamon, nutmeg and cardamom in place of curry powder for a different flavor.

Suggested side dishes: a bowl of roasted chestnuts and some fresh whole grain bread to mop up the dregs.