Thursday, November 17, 2011

Acorn Squash Soup with Yogurt

I first got the idea for this seasonal soup from Google. No, not a Google search, a Google menu. My husband often makes everyone he knows jealous by regaling them with magical culinary tales from this mystical campus in Mountain View. One day he sent me a menu that included a creamy vegetable soup that included yogurt in its ingredients instead of cream. As cream gives me a tummy ache, I got very excited by the prospect. Once Fall and my annual autumn soup cravings came around, I decided to see if yogurt in a squash soup was a winner.

Well, it took a lot of squashes (at least I like the seeds!) and a number of batches - some that went down the drain (even a little turmeric can be too much) - but I think I've finally conquered the squash and yogurt soup. Through trial and error I learned a few things:

1. Less is more when seasoning. Also, I found that warm, sweet flavors worked better than savory herbs like thyme, rosemary, and sage.

2. Regular yogurt works better than Greek. Despite really, really wanting to use Greek yogurt, the results were tart in an off-putting way, and adding more sugar just threw off the balance of flavors. So, while Greek yogurt doesn't ruin the soup and will be fine in a pinch, regular yogurt is preferable.

3. Stir in the yogurt at the end, off heat. The instant the yogurt melts into the soup, the color softens and the texture becomes creamier - exactly the results we're looking for. Let it heat in the soup for even a short time and the yogurt separates into white specks, throwing off the color and texture. Stir the yogurt into hot soup just before serving, or divide the yogurt between bowls as a garnish and let people stir it in themselves so they can fully relish the beauty of the experience. I know that sounds cheesy, but it really is pretty.

The final result is sweet, but not cloying, and incredibly smooth and velvety while maintaining the full squash flavor instead of masking it the way cream might. I call success! So here's yet another recipe that lets you make a dish creamy without actually using any cream.

Acorn Squash Soup with Yogurt

Serves 4. This recipe halves well as a way to use squash leftover from a previous meal.

Flesh of one cooked acorn squash, about three cups
2 1/2 cups chicken or vegetable broth
2 Tbsp + 1 tsp brown sugar
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/4 cup plain, nonfat yogurt

In blender, puree squash with 2 cups of the broth until smooth. Remove to pot and stir in remaining half cup of broth as needed for desired consistency. Stir in sugar and spices. Heat until just hot without letting it come to a full simmer. Remove from heat and stir in yogurt until fully incorporated, or divide between four bowls and add a 1 Tbsp dollop of yogurt to each bowl, allowing your guests to stir it together themselves. Garnish with a swirl of maple syrup or a sprinkle of brown sugar.

1 comment:

  1. Yay! I have an acorn squash just dying to be used!