Soup season is upon us.
The coast of British Columbia is currently being pummelled with the first of three sizeable storms expected over the next few days. Honestly, the first one, which hit last night, didn’t seem very newsworthy… not that I’m complaining! I see my East Coast and Caribbean friends battling ‘superstorms’ and hurricanes and, well, while storms can be exciting, they can also cause shocking destruction. I feel like every second day I watch people on my social media check in for safety. It’s pretty scary.
While I can’t do much to stop the storm from my little slice of rainforest over here, my thoughts are with everyone battling the winds and destruction right now. I hope you all stay safe, avoid the worst and, if nothing else, have the help and resources to rebuild quickly.
I feel like the Pacific Northwest is long overdue for our disaster. I keep seeing terrifying things elsewhere, it seems like only a matter of time before it’s our turn- the earthquake, The Big One, as everyone has warned throughout my life. For now, I will be grateful for every day my house spends not liquified into the earth (technically I live below sea level, in a sandy delta. Earthquake insurance is very, very, very expensive here…)
To that end, this recipe is my bowl of comfort, a warming tribute to those battling storms today. Jamaica itself managed to escape Hurricane Matthew relatively unscathed- good preparation and very good luck- but I imagine the spices featured in a traditional jerk are common throughout the Caribbean in various combinations.
Of course, none of this is strictly traditional. Kabocha squash, popular in Japan, is my new favourite soup squash. Sweet, dense and highly nutritious, I have been loading up on this seasonal beauty. While I will never give up my beloved Butternut, I find Kabocha makes the most velvety soup ever and, due to the overwhelming popularity of Butternut these days, Kabocha is often cheaper! Everyone wins.
If you can’t track down a Kabocha in the shops, Buttercup, Buttercup are decent alternatives, but I have found the closest substitute is using a combination of Sugar Pumpkin and sweet potato, of all things. Since Kabocha is dry, starchy and sweet, this combination works a treat.
Jerk is also traditionally quite spicy, something I love at this time of year to help me warm up, but I know not everyone loves rip-your-lips-off spice. If you’re not a fan of spicy foods but still love the flavour of jerk, either omit the pepper completely or substitute with half a teaspoon on dried cayenne- this will give it the tiniest punch without ripping your lips off.
|Jamaican Squash Soup|| |
- 3 Tbsp grapeseed oil
- 2 onions, diced
- 1 tsp dried thyme
- ½ tsp dried ginger
- ½ tsp ground cinnamon
- ⅛ tsp ground allspice
- ⅛ tsp ground nutmeg
- 1 scotch bonnet pepper, seeds removed*
- 1 small Kabocha squash, peeled, seeded and diced (~2 cups)
- 1 apple, peeled, cored and cubed
- 1 Tbsp soy sauce
- 6 cups chicken or vegetable stock
- 1 bay leaf
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- 1 apple, thinly sliced (to serve)
- 2-3 scallions, chopped (to serve)
- Heat oil in a large, heavy bottomed pot. Add onions and cook on med-high until translucent but not browned. Add all spices and scotch bonnet pepper (if using) and cook 1-2 minutes until fragrant, stirring constantly to ensure they do not burn.
- Add squash, apple, soy sauce, stock and bay leaf. Bring to a boil then reduce to simmer, cooking for 30 minutes until squash is very tender.
- Blend until smooth (in batches, if using a counter-top blender- careful, it's hot!) or using an immersion blender. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Garnish with apple and scallions to serve.