I very much enjoyed this soup, but it wasn’t for me. It was for you! Tireless gardener, pest hunter, weed puller, dearly be-gloved: you will be having Squash Problems soon. All of you do. And, allow me to guess: you share your bounty generously with friends, neighbors, maybe the occasional hapless tourist or two? And you sauté and grill, and sauté and grill, until you can’t look at another gourd anymore?
At least these are the stories I hear; I’m not a gardener myself. I don’t grow anything except sweet bangs and bitter resentment for the person who MUST hold up parking lot traffic to get a spot 5 feet closer to the door of Bed Bath & Beyond. Enjoy your duvet, ma’am.
This veggie-packed soup was intended for the squash-weary gardener, but it is downright lovely in any situation. The squash is a mild-flavored, good-for-you vehicle for the fragrant warmth of cumin–which, in my opinion, does not get highlighted enough as a solo artist, without the usual cohorts like paprika and chili powder. There’s a lot of cumin in here, but on its own, it isn’t very spicy–so if you’re wary of that, fear not.
That said, if you’re tempted to throw chili powder, paprika, and cayenne in here… Maybe some sliced jalapenos atop… We are alike in the brain. I kept it simple this time, but squash is gentle and adaptable to any flavors you happen to be into. Tarragon and/or thyme would work beautifully–especially if you threw in kernels from an ear of corn. Maybe some ginger, carrots, and a splash of coconut milk? Possibilities, friends. We are in the business of possibilities around here.
The soup is a little bit thin when you first puree it–which is why I like to let it simmer a little after that. If you want it even richer, a potato or a handful of cooked white beans would be a good call. As is, it’s 100% vegetable wholesomeness. This means you can make it heartier (read: slightly unhealthier) however you wish. If you wish.
I went for fried tortilla strips myself. Life is too short … or too long. Or both? Or just not crunchy enough?
Either way: life is better with soup. I ate this one hot (rather sweaty, but not unpleasant), I ate it chilled, and I probably snuck a spoonful or two in between. I’ll probably do all of the above many more times this summer. Join me?
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1/2 yellow onion, chopped
- 2 stalks celery, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 tablespoons dried cumin
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 2-3 dried bay leaves
- 1 teaspoon turmeric powder (optional, for color)
- 3 pounds mixed yellow summer squash (I used 4 each patty pan and crooked neck squash)
- 6 cups low-sodium chicken or vegetable stock
- Fried tortilla strips, for topping
- Toasted cumin seeds, for topping
- Chopped scallions and/or cilantro, for topping
- Plain yogurt or Mexican crema, for topping (omit if vegan--avocado would be a good substitute!)
- In a large soup pot over medium-high heat, heat up olive oil until shimmering. Add onion and celery and saute until onion is soft and translucent, about 2 minutes.
- Add garlic, cumin, oregano, bay leaves, and turmeric if using. Stir until fragrant, 30 seconds or so, then add squash and stock.
- Bring soup to a boil, lower heat and simmer for 20 minutes until squash is very soft.
- Remove soup from heat and, when cool enough to safely do so, puree in a blender or food processor in batches, until very smooth.
- Return to pot and cook over medium heat until warmed through and thickened to desired consistency. Serve immediately with the toppings of your choice.