Did I ever tell you about the time I was in my office trying to listen to how my office voicemail recording sounded? I was sitting at my desk and I called my office line from my cell phone. Upon hearing my office phone ring, and being the dituful employee that I am, I promptly hung up my cell and answered my office phone. No one was there, obviously. After a big laugh with my colleague about the ridiculousness of the situation, I went back to the original task of trying to listen to my voicemail recording. (Do you know where this is going?) I heard the phone ringing, hung up my cell, and answered my office line. Again. This is a true story.
I was reminded of this because I’m having one of those weeks right now, except it’s more like a wtf, how could THIS also be happening situation (like my car breaking down, seriously breaking down) near a creepy isolated power plant, in the rain, where there was nobody around but me (and later a random creepy dude on a bike who appeared from behind a fence), and it was halloween, and my cell battery was dying, etc. I actually thought that might get murdered that night. That’s kind of how my week has been: a mix of ridiculous and awful things. Thankfully there’s always humour. And not getting murdered. And this kabocha squash soup with harissa and orange.
This is a version of the soup recipe I entered into a contest last year at school. I ended up being a finalist in the contest and had to compete master chef-style against 4 other contestants in front of an audience and be judged on all kinds of things, including my knife skills. (For the record, I used a clever to cut into my squash because I have weak, wimpy wrists and ended up losing marks for that one.) And I didn’t win the contest. But, hey! A gluten-free and vegan soup made the finals at culinary school that’s rooted in classical Frensh tradition! That was a win enough for me. This soup really is a winner, in my house a least. It’s vibrantly coloured, deeply flavourful, with a subtle heat that comes in a little later, and it’s silky and creamy without having any cream or cream-like substance added to it. It’s also super quick to make because I had to make it in a short amount of time for the contest. Kabocha squash has a lovely sweet taste that is really complimented by the addition of tangy citrus and spicy harissa. And the chickpeas are just a bonus. Topping the soup with them gives the soup a little more sustenance as a meal, some heat that really pulls things together, and it makes it look a little prettier. But you can skip the soup entirely and just make these spicy chickpeas to munch on if you’re also having one of those weeks. I hope, for your sake, that your week has been better than mine. If you think you have some good ju ju to spare, please send it my way!
Also, because food always makes me happy, here are a few of my favourite eats from around the net recently:
The baked potato of my dreams.
These crème fraîche caramels.
These bars, which are like a candy bar, but good for you!
Roasted red kuri with lots of other good stuff.
These scones!!! I would eat them every day if I could.
These pistachio butter cups. Insane, right?
Another way to eat spaghetti squash.
This wild mushroom risotto.
A salad I could eat every day.
More squash! But this time in crostini form.
Until next time, friends. xo
- [b]Kabocha Squash Soup[/b]
- 2 tbsp grape seed oil, divided
- A 2.5 -3 lb Kabocha squash, peeled, seeded and cut into 2-inch pieces (about 4 cups total)
- 1 medium onion, peeled and cut into small dice
- 1 large or 2 small garlic cloves, finely minced
- 1 tbsp harissa paste
- 4 cups vegetable stock
- Zest and juice of half a small navel orange (you may want more juice)
- 1/2 tsp salt, plus more salt and pepper, to taste
- [b]Harissa Roasted Chickpeas[/b]
- 1 can chickpeas (or 1.5 cups cooked chickpeas), rinsed and drained well
- 1 tbsp grape seed oil
- 1 tsp – 1 tbsp harissa paste, depending how hot you like it (1 tablespoon will make them quite hot, in my opinion, but when paired with the soup, the chickpeas mellow out and it creates a nice balance.)
- Preheat oven to 425°F and line 2 baking trays with parchment paper.
- Dry the chickpeas by placing them on several layers of paper towel. Top with a few more layers and gently rub to help absorb most of the moisture. Place the chickpeas on one of the baking trays and toss with grape seed oil. Bake in the oven for 10-12 minutes. Remove the chickpeas from the oven and toss with the harissa (use spoons so you don’t burn your hands). Place the chickpeas back into the oven for another 10-12 minutes, or until the chickpeas are golden and the harissa paste has form a crust. Remove from the oven and sprinkle with a generous pinch of salt. Set aside to cool.
- At the same time, toss the kabocha squash with one tablespoon of grape seed oil and a sprinkle of salt and pepper. Evenly distribute the squash on a baking tray and roast in the oven until almost tender, about 15-20 minutes.
- Heat the other tablespoon of grape seed oil in a large pot over medium low heat and sweat the onions until soft. Add in the garlic and harissa paste and cook for an additional 1-2 minutes to cook out the paste. Add in the cooked squash and vegetable stock and stir.
- Bring to a boil and reduce the heat to medium to simmer until the squash is completely tender and the flavours have had a chance to amalgamate.
- Add the orange zest and puree the soup in a high speed blender or food processor. For extra silky soup, you can strain it through a fine mesh strainer, but I like the added backbone and texture of leaving it as is. Plus, if you have a good blender, your soup will get incredibly silky anyway.
- Pour the soup back into a large pot, add in the juice and salt and stir to combine. Bring the the soup to a gentle simmer and serve topped with harissa roasted chickpeas.
- Other toppings include: freshly cut chives, yogurt, olive oil, etc.