Thursday, March 6, 2008
Pumpkin Soup with Ripe Plantain and Lime; Curry Bison Topping
This is version 1.0 of my newest favorite soup. That's right, the one I promised I would blog about a couple weeks ago. No, it wasn't the catfish gumbo I was talking about, although that is good too. This is my riff on all those curried pumpkin soup recipes floating around the Internet. For all you cilantro haters out there, you will be glad to see that I avoided this ubiquitous ingredient without compromising the taste.
An explosion of flavours, umami and spice predominating, permeates this dish. Silky smooth yet filling pumpkin, plantain and coconut milk, warm and spicy curry powder and chili, tangy lime and lipsmackingly meaty bison may seem like too much to handle, but I assure you that the taste is sublime. I call this version 1.0 because I already have ideas for variations on this theme that I like would like play around with in the future, and I hope to post a 2.0 sometime this spring. In the meantime, pick up some pumpkin or squash on your next food run and try this one out.
Pumpkin Soup with Ripe Plantain and Lime
The plantain flavour is not too strong in this soup, so if you want it to show through a bit more I would suggest substituting two more plantains for a cup and a half of the pumpkin. Making a more plantain based soup is on my list of priorities for this recipe. With low fat coconut milk, 1 cup of soup (sans toppings) contains about 167 calories and the recipe makes about 6 and a half cups total.
2 ripe plantains, peeled and chopped (about 1 and 1/2 cup)
1 cup chopped onion
4 cups pumpkin or winter squash puree (either cook and blend your own squash-I keep mine frozen in the freezer, or you can buy a couple cans of pumpkin)
2 cups low fat chicken stock or vegetable stock
1 can low fat coconut milk (about 2 cups)
About 1/2 tbsp minced fresh ginger
1/2 tsp salt
1-1/2 tsp red pepper flakes (or to taste)
1/4 tsp fresh ground black pepper
1 bay leaf
1/2 to 3/4 tsp good quality curry powder
Juice and zest of one large lime
1. Get out a big pot, heat it over medium heat and saute the onions in a spritz of olive oil until soft. Add the spices and plantain and cook for a minute or two more, stirring as needed, then add the pumpkin puree and simmer over medium heat until everything is cooked through.
2. Remove the bay leaf and blend the soup with the coconut milk until smooth. Reheat over low heat and stir in the lime juice. There may be some curdling, but keep stirring and it will disappear. Serve over rice (left over Chinese take out rice in my case, but I think this would be good with a jasmine rice or a medium or long grained brown rice), and top with a sprinkling of lime zest and a spoonful of curried bison if you aren't vegetarian (see the recipe below).
Curried Bison or Beef
Although I made this with some ground American bison meat that was stuck in my freezer from my last trip to the Dupont Circle Farmer's Market, good quality ground beef can be substituted instead. Given that bison is quite lean, pick the leanest ground beef you can find, as the recipe will be too greasy otherwise. This recipe makes about 1-1/2 cup and is about 300 calories per half cup. You should only need a tablespoon or two for each serving of pumpkin soup. It is spicy so if that isn't your thing you may wish to skip this recipe.
1/2 lb bison or lean ground beef
2 garlic cloves
1/2 cup tomato paste (I ran out and used ketchup and it was sacrilegious but still delicious)
3/4 cup finely minced onion
1 finely minced small red chili
1 tsp sugar (or to taste)
A couple grinds of black pepper
2 dashes ground all spice (optional but rounds out the flavour)
2 tbsp of Patak's Tomato and Cumin Hot Curry Paste (Available online and at Whole Foods-this stuff is amazing!)
1. Heat a nonstick frying pan over medium high heat. Dump in the ground bison or beef and let it brown for a couple minutes. When partially browned, add the hot curry paste, which is quite oily, and lower the heat to medium low.
2. Add the minced onions and using a garlic press, smash the garlic and add it as well (or mince it finely). Add the allspice and minced chili. Let the mixture saute over low heat until the onions are soft and transparent.
3. Add the tomato paste and sugar and mix thoroughly. Let the mixture cook on low heat for 5-10 minutes to allow the flavours to mix. Serve as a topping for Pumpkin soup with Plantain, or with rice.