clear out the pantry! make butternut squash soup with coconut cream

butternut squash soup with coconut cream

Only four more days in New York! We’re going to Chicago for a week, then it’s off to Thailand. I’m trying to use up as much of the food I have in the pantry as I can. There was vegetable base, tomato paste, and the remainder of a can of coconut cream left over from last weekend’s Jamaican black bean soup. I noticed an orphan in the back of the pantry: a bottle of Guinness Stout. I ran out of time to try that new recipe for Chocolate Guinness Cake. So, I guess we’ll just have to drink it before we leave New York!

Butternut squash soup with coconut cream is slightly sweet but not too salty, deliciously satisfying and smooth. This is a great soup for a light summer supper accompanying a salad or a grilled cheese sandwich.

Butternut Squash Soup with Coconut Cream
Prep time: 20 minutes (includes pureeing the vegetables)
Cook time: 30 minutes

2 tablespoons olive oil
2-6 cloves garlic, pressed through a garlic press
2 tablespoons fresh ginger root, peeled and minced
1-2 pounds butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into 1 inch cubes
1 russet potato, peeled and cut into 1 inch cubes
3 medium carrots, scraped and cut into inch pieces
4 teaspoons vegetable base
4 cups water
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 cup unsweetened coconut cream
Salt and pepper to taste
Scallion and cilantro, chopped, for garnish (optional)

In a large dutch pot, heat oil over medium heat. Add garlic, ginger, squash, potato and carrots to the oil. Cook until fragrant, about 3-5 minutes, stirring frequently.

Add water and vegetable base to the pot. Stir. Add the tomato paste and stir. Cook 25-30 minutes or until the vegetables can be pierced easily with a fork. Remove from heat and stir in the coconut cream. Taste and add salt and pepper to taste.

Cook’s Note: Be careful with the salt because there is salt in the vegetable base and the tomato paste, so it’s important to taste the soup first before adding additional salt.

Use an immersion blender to puree the vegetables in the pot. Alternatively, put the vegetables and soup in a blender to puree them. Do this in batches. Serve hot garnished with chopped scallion and cilantro, if desired, and a sprinkle of sea salt.

italian sausage with peppers and onions over cheese grits

Italian sausage with peppers and onions over cheese grits

We’ll be going back to Thailand in two weeks’ time, interviewing movers, and I’m on a rampage to clean out the kitchen cupboards. Cross off corn grits! This dish is hearty and salty, crunchy and onion-y. I’m adding it to my list of comfort foods, along with macaroni and cheese, Chinese barbecued spare ribs, and banana bread.

Italian Sausage with Peppers and Onions over Cheese Grits

Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 1 hour 10 minutes
Servings: 2-4

For the grits:
2 teaspoons chicken broth base
4 cups water
3/4 cup yellow corn grits
1/2 cup nonfat milk, optional
1-2 teaspoons unsalted butter to flavor, optional
1 cup part-skim grated mozzarella cheese

For the sausage
1 package sweet Italian sausage
1/2 sweet red pepper, cut into strips
1/2 sweet green pepper, cut into strips
1/2 onion, sliced

Make the grits: Put chicken broth base and water in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat. Add the grits and cook for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally. When it is thickened, if desired, thin the grits with milk, up to 1/2 cup. If desired, add 1-2 teaspoons butter for flavor. Add the mozzarella cheese and stir. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.

About 20 minutes before the grits cook, brown the sausages in a skillet with three tablespoons water, over medium heat. Cover and cook 10 minutes. Turn frequently until browned. Remove the cover and continue cooking an additional 10 minutes. Remove the sausages and slice on the bias. Don’t discard the oil in the pan.

Add peppers and onions to the skillet and cook over medium heat until the peppers are crisp tender and the onions are wilted, about 10-15 minutes.

Spoon the grits onto a plate. Top with sausage and peppers and onions.