I used to be a creative person. For years after completing a bachelors in art I made stuff and found ways to express myself visually. I am no longer like that. I have the usual excuses: child, work, household demands, tv, etc, but really none of them is adequate in explaining my lack of non-verbal expression. I miss creativity. Despite a number of unfulfilled promises to myself to embark on crafty projects, cooking is the one area I still actually pursue. It’s not as expressive as other forms of creativity, and the final product is ephemeral, but it often satisfies my creative urge, even if just for that day.
Cooking can feel creative to me if I’m following a recipe or someone else’s directions, but I like it the best when I make the whole thing up myself. Most often I start with an inspiring ingredient (this week it was butternut squash) and an appetite. Those two factors lead to the addition of other ingredients that culminate in a final product that is, usually, pleasing to me in some way.
I have made butternut squash soup many, many times, but this time needed to find a way to incorporate the tail-end of the season’s heirloom tomatoes. I had acquired a number of tomatoes from my CSA share and felt the pressure to get them consumed. I altered my usual butternut squash soup recipe to accommodate the flavors of the tomatoes and this is what I came up with.
Curried Butternut Squash Soup w/ Heirloom Tomatoes
1 medium to large butternut squash
1 to 2 quarts chicken stock
2 cups whole milk (any milk substitute will work here)
2 tablespoons peanut butter (optional)
2 teaspoons curry powder
salt and pepper to taste
3-4 medium to large heirloom tomatoes (do not substitute with canned or cooked tomatoes)
Roast the squash, skin on and in quarters, for about an hour at 350 degrees. Once removed from the oven and cooled, scoop the squash out in large chunks and add them directly to the stock in a large saucepan already heating on the stove. Use an immersion blender to start the puree (if you don’t have an immersion blender, go out and buy one*). Add the milk, peanut butter, salt and pepper and continue to puree. Once you’ve achieved a smooth, creamy soup, and it’s hot, add the tomatoes that have been cut in to 1/2 inch chunks. Let this cook for about 5 to 10 minutes, or until the tomatoes just start to soften. We ate ours with a side of kale fried rice and my creative urges were satisfied for another day.
* or, a food processor is fine. It’s just easier to cream soup already on the stove with an immersion blender, since you don’t have to wait for it to cool.