Saturday, November 3, 2012

Easy Soup for Trying Times

Julia Spencer-Fleming:  Well, it's been quite a week here at Jungle Reds - hurricane, power outages, travel interruptions. Up here in Maine, we got electricity back mid-day Wednesday. Hurrah! Then on Thursday, my husband Ross discovered steaming hot water literaly bubbling out of our hot water heater (thank heavens our 200-year-old house has beaten dirt floor in the cellar.) To stop the machine from parboiling itself, he had to turn off the oil burner, which also, alas, turns off the furnace.

I'm not sure if it was the earthquake or the superstorm that caused the damage, but I do know five days without heat and hot water is a bit too much. We have decamped to a seaside hotel to lick our wounds and take showers. 

In times of trial, we want comforting things, and so today I'm sharing my recipe for peanut butternut squash soup. It's the easiest thing ever to make, delicious and nutritious, and keeps well atop a wood stove when the power's out. When we get home, if my oven doesn't explode, I'm going to make a batch.

One good-sized butternut squash
One onion, diced
Two cans chicken broth (you can substitute vegetable broth if you or your guests are vegetarian.)
1/4 to 1/3 cup natural peanut butter (don't use the pre-blended Jiffy or Peter Pan type)
One can Coconut milk
1/2 tsp cumin
cayenne pepper or hot sauce to taste
two bay leaves.

Peel and chop the butternut squash into cubes. Sautee the squash with the onion until the onion wilts. (You can use butter or oil for the sauteeing. I like to use soy oil - it gives it a bit of a taste.)

Pour in the broth to cover. Boil until the squash is very soft. Take off heat and process it in batches in the food processor until everything is smooth and creamy. (You can also use a masher in the pot if you like a more textured soup.)

Stir in the natural peanut butter. You can add more or less as you like - it should taste of peanuts but not not so strongly that you feel like you ought to add grape jelly to the thing. Drop in the bay leaves and let simmer for up to an hour to develop the flavor. I'm not much one for salt, but if you are, go ahead and use your shaker. If the mixture starts to get too think and paste-like, throw some more broth into it.

Remove from heat and stir in the coconut milk and cumin. Add enough cayenne pepper or hot sauce to give it a bite. Serve and share with family or friends. Don't forget to be thankful for having heat and hot water.    


  1. ::Sigh:: Dealing with the aftermath of the storm ought to be more than enough for anyone . . . hope you are able to get home soon . . . .

    I love homemade soup [hot and yummy and comforting] . . . your peanut butternut squash soup sounds mouth-wateringly delicious . . . I’ll be making up a batch for sure. Thanks for sharing the recipe.

  2. We lost power up here in the mountains but it was only overnight and it was back on after about 10 hours. Nothing compared with what others are suffering.

    I'm working on election stuff for these final days and, unfortunately, don't have time to read. Horrors! I'm looking forward to Rhys' book release on Election Day. Hopefully, it'll be available for audiobook download and I can listen on my way home from Portland on Wednesday. I hear there's rumor of a Nor'easter. Guess I should think about those snow tires.

    And I'm glad the blog posts are archived so I can go back and read what I've missed.

    Great recipe. Thanks!

  3. Wonderful recipe. I can't wait to try it - although I will have to. Dee

  4. Julia, my heart goes out to you and Ross and all the other storm victims. Glad you're finally where you'll have some heat and hot water. I hope you'll be home with heat and hot water soon.

    The soup recipe sounds grand. I'm on the road right now, but when I get back home I think I'll try it.

    To all the Jungle Reds and backbloggers who are experiencing trials due to Sandy, I hope power goes back on and your lives can get back to normal quickly. It's dragged on quite long enough. It's time for all of you to catch a break. xoxo

  5. Oh, Julia and Ross (etc.) - how awful! That really is adding insult to injury.

    I know Roberta has made it back home. And I'm hoping Hank's power is back. And hoping Ro is back home without too much broken glass.

    This soup looks delicious and the perfect comfort food. Coconut milk and peanut butter make it a meal.

    Stay warm!

  6. Julia,
    This sounds delicious. I make my a version of this, without the peanut butter and if I don't have it, without the coconut milk. (both omissions really reduce the calorie count, too!)

    It's the onion, and cayenne pepper that's key. Also I add a dollop of plain greek yoghurt when I serve it. It adds some protein and some coolness. Lite sour cream works equally as well.

    But I am going to try this version because this sounds really delicious!

  7. Julia and Ross, so sorry you've had to be without hot water and heat. Hopefully it will soon be restored.

    i'm passing along this recipe to my vegan son and girlfriend. They love interesting soups.

  8. Julia, so glad to know that you are okay and have a good sense of humor, "... it should taste of peanuts but not not so strongly that you feel like you ought to add grape jelly to the thing," and the great visual, "... throw some more broth into it."

    I love squash soup. Your recipe sounds wonderful for a cold winter day. We have a few of those in Arizona, although not quite like yours down east, and I am determined to try it soon.

  9. This looks delicious and so soothing! We just now got our power back on--I feel like I've been on another planet, out of touch with all of you. Going off to take a hot shower right now. Julia, hope the heat is repaired quickly!

    and still keeping all the folks who lost so much in the storm in our thoughts....

  10. Lucy! Good to have you back. Oh... hot shower... great!

  11. Still no power in CT, but no broken glass. Yay! Fingers crossed we'll have power there by Monday. (In NY now)
    I use the Silver Palate recipe for squash soup. Can't believe I used to make it pre-food processor. Hard to imagine peanut butter in this but most of life is better with peanut butter so why not??

  12. Rosemary... no power yet? How are you getting on? It must be very cold back there!