I like to follow different food blogging events as a way to meet new bloggers, discover new foods and to push my own kitchen barriers. When I first saw that the current Monthly Mingle was featuring South African cuisine, I was intrigued. Um, what IS South African cuisine? So I googled… and stumbled across a very interesting African cookbook. I learned it is also known as “rainbow cuisine” due to its blend of dishes from many origins and cultures including dishes from the indigenous people of South Africa as well as the dishes brought from immigrants from India, Afrikaner and British descent. The Cape Dutch dishes which incorporate nutmeg, allspice and hot peppers can be fused with Cape Malay dishes that includes curries, sambals and fish stews.
The following recipe for South African Spiced Butternut Squash and Roasted Banana Soup with Coconut and Lime does just that. It comes from Grant Cullingworth, the executive chef at Table Bay Hotel, Cape Town, South Africa, and was adapted from those posted here and here. It is a delicious sweet soup that balances the sweetness of the butternut squash and a roasted banana, with the creaminess of coconut milk, the spicy kick of chilies (or curried if you want the original version) with the bitter tang of lime. It was a thick soup, so don’t be shy to add extra stock. I ate some as a soup, but later also used the thicker soup base as a filling for ravioli and found it absolutely incredible as a spread over a multigrain bread.
This is my submission to this month’s Monthly Mingle featuring dishes from South Africa.
South African Spiced Butternut Squash and Roasted Banana Soup with Coconut and Lime
1 butternut squash (about 11/2 pounds), cleaned, peeled and diced into 1-2 cm pieces
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons honey
4 tablespoons butter, divided
1 ripe banana, unpeeled
1 onion, chopped
1 carrot, peeled and chopped
1 clove garlic, chopped
1 teaspoon curry powder (I used 1/4 tsp Aleppo chili flakes because I don’t like curry but this could definitely be increased for those who want heat)
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander seeds
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup coconut milk (I used slightly less)
1 cup chicken stock (use vegetable stock for a vegetarian soup), plus extra for adjusting thickness
Fresh cilantro leaves
Juice of 1 lime, to taste
Salt and pepper, to taste
Garnish: Fresh cilantro, pumpkin seeds, and pumpkin seed oil (or truffle oil or hazelnut oil, if desired), bruschetta.
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Combine 2 tbsp melted butter with brown sugar and honey. Mix with chopped butternut squash and lay over 1-2 cookie sheets for roasting (do not overcrowd). Roast in a 350 F oven until caramelized and soft to the touch, about 20 minutes. Roast the unpeeled banana in the oven at the same time.
3. Melt the other 2 tablespoons butter in a large saucepan on medium heat, and add the garlic until fragrant. Sweat the onion and carrot for a few minutes until tender. Add the curry powder (or chili flakes), coriander, nutmeg and cinnamon, and cook slowly for a few more minutes.
4. Remove the banana from its skin, slice and add it with the butternut to the pan, along with the coconut milk and broth. Simmer until hot. Blend the soup in a blender until smooth. Adjust to consistency desired with more broth, if necessary (you will need a lot, but the thicker soup is GREAT as a spread, too). Add fresh cilantro, lime juice and salt and pepper to taste. Blend again until smooth and pass the soup through a chinois or household strainer. (Yeah, I skipped that!)
5. Serve hot (reheat if necessary). Pour soup into bowls and garnish with a drizzle of pumpkin seed oil, a few toasted pumpkin seeds and a sprig of fresh cilantro. If desired, serve with a slice of bruschetta.