…with this cookbook.
The Northern Heartland Kitchen. A seasonal cookbook for those of us in the Great, not-so-White-this-year, North. Author Beth Dooley has produced an absolute staple for the kitchen of anyone even considering eating seasonally north of the Mason-Dixon Line.
I first saw an ad for this cookbook on The Heavy Table Blog. It caught my attention, but it was one of those moments in which I probably had at least 5 tabs open, an insistent kitchen timer beeping at me, and a growing, gnawing hunger blinding me to all else.
But as luck would have it, on one of my early morning drives to school, I turned on MPR and heard the host interviewing none other than Beth Dooley. I knew I had to have this cookbook when she started talking about the unique nature of carrots and how they actually hit their peak in February (yeah, I said February) after they’ve had time to let their pretty little orange carbohydrates sweeten.
Worth the wait? Yes. Everything I’ve tried so far out of this book has been simple, seasonal, and delicious…from this Thai squash soup to her brown butter vinaigrette. The book starts off with some great thoughts (both philosophical and practical) on eating seasonally and locally. She goes on to share a veritable smorgasbord of recipes, divided by autumn, winter, spring, and summer (including five 5-minute dishes for each season!). The book ends with some recipes for all seasons…muesli, pizza dough, buttermilk pancakes…as well as some bottle-busting recipes for great homemade salad dressings, salsa, and and other mouth-watering sauces.
I may be new to the Beth Dooley fan club, but she is certainly not new to the seasonal scene. A Minnesota native (you betchya!), she is also the co-author of Savoring the Seasons of the Northern Heartland…a book you can be sure will be on my list just as soon as I read these 23 baby books.
With this cookbook in hand, I feel ready to embrace these winter months of seasonal eating. Some may have blood oranges and avocados in season near them…but we’ve got squash, gosh-darn-it. Hearty, winter-enduring squash.
And I’m now not so convinced that squash should be made any other way than in this Thai soup. The sweetness of the squash is the perfect match for the spiciness of the red curry paste, both rounded out nicely by the addition of coconut milk. All of the flavors of this soup are brightened by a hearty splash of lime juice. Sometimes when we make Thai food at home, I’m a little disappointed because it never lives up to the take-out Thai this city has to offer. But this soup? It captures the Thai flavors perfectly, even with a very Minnesotan squash as the main feature.
This soup came together (surprisingly) quickly; from peeling squash to slurping, it took around 45 minutes. And I love that it’s flexible. Use whatever winter squash you’ve got around…butternut…acorn…you can do it! Don’t love spicy heat? Use less red curry paste. We ate this soup topped with cilantro (I just can’t resist) and alongside some crusty, toasted bread. Total winner.
I cannot recommend this book enough to you. Or this soup. Buy one. Make the other. And celebrate the hearty, northern Viking warrior princess within.
I didn't do much to adapt this recipe. It was pretty well perfect as is. I cut the squash into slightly smaller pieces than the 1-inch cubes that the recipe calls for just to spread them out a bit and decrease their cooking time. I added more like 4 tbsp. of lime juice instead of 3 because I loved what the citrus did to this soup. And finally, I left off the scallions because I was already feeling guilty about buying cilantro out of season, but I'm sure scallions would be fantastic. And the cilantro...some might say it's optional. I don't think this soup should have to live without it.
1 tbsp. vegetable oil
1 onion, finely chopped
1 celery stalk, finely chopped
2-3 tbsp. Thai red curry paste (I used a heaping 2)
3 c. stock (chicken or vegetable)
1 small acorn or butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into 1/2-to-1-inch cubes (I used acorn)
1/2 c. coconut milk or heavy cream* (I used coconut milk)
1 tbsp. fish sauce or soy sauce (I used soy sauce)
2-3 tbsp. lime juice
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Scallions, chopped (optional)
Fresh cilantro, chopped (I guess I should say optional)
*Coconut milk: the 1/2 c. that this recipe called for left me with about a half of a can remaining. I read that you can freeze coconut milk for later use as long as the texture of what you're eating isn't all that essential. I'm planning on reusing it in a soup or curry, so I froze it hoping the texture would be fine.
In a deep, heavy soup pot, warm the oil over medium heat and cook the onions and celery until very soft, about 4 minutes.
Stir in the curry paste, cooking and stirring continuously for 30 seconds to 1 minute.
Stir in the stock and bring it to a boil. Then reduce heat to a simmer and add the squash.
Cook until the squash is tender (15-20 minutes; less time with smaller chunks).
Whisk in the coconut milk, soy sauce, lime juice, salt, and pepper.
Top with chopped scallions and cilantro, if using.