Today the love of my life turns 30. If you’ve never met Joseph, you are missing out. He is one of a kind. I’ve never met anyone who is as good at being equal parts intellectual capacity (accountant by day, scientist/entrepreneur by night), kinesthetic brilliance (mechanic/carpenter/DIYer), humor (ask him about the lime and the coconut), and kindness (ask anyone).
Ten years ago, we met and were instant best friends, in a way I’d never experienced with another person. The past ten years have been full of loveliness and also contained some ugliness, and I can report that on this side of adulthood – because we did weather our formative early twenties together – there’s no one with whom I’d rather enjoy the capricious adventure of living.
One thing I love about Joseph is that while he has no shortage of his own hobbies and pursuits, he supports my love of all things related to nutrition, cooking, gardening, and general crunchiness. He provides most of the brawn AND the brains required to execute my elaborate visions of structural renovation to our home and garden – usually for free. If there’s a meticulous hand needed, he’s the man for the job; our rows of lettuce and carrots are only straight when he’s the one who’s planted them. When something needs grilled perfectly, that’s all Joe.
Most relevant to daily life, he very rarely mentions the fact that he’s a fan of meat and potatoes, a real Germanic, American man’s man. When cooking, I forget about this more often than not, and yet he totally enjoys the meals I create, which tend toward the ethnic or the spice-laden.
So tonight by request, we celebrate with the down-home, classic dinner of meatloaf and scalloped potatoes and green salad. I’m super excited to cook and eat that yumminess – but first: this yumminess; our dinner last night.
Earlier in the week, I was scrolling through Instagram and saw a picture of a beautiful curried sweet potato soup. This is not that. While I love a good vegetarian soup, especially with sweet potato, we had some chicken thawing and I cannot, cannot, cannot resist chicken and curry spices together. I used the curry, onions, and squeeze of lime concept from the recipe I found, and created a curried acorn squash and chicken soup that was the talk of our evening. It’s delicious.
Some notes: A dollop of yogurt on this wouldn’t be amiss, but the lime does add plenty of brightness without it, and the roasted squash creates a creaminess without any dairy. Also, use any broth you’d like except beef. I used a mostly vegetable broth that had one pork bone simmered in it for good measure. This can obviously be made vegan very easily.
Curried acorn squash soup
1 acorn squash, halved, seeded, and roasted in a 400-degree oven for 35 minutes or until softened
3 T cooking oil (coconut oil, butter, ghee, or fat leftover from cooking broth or meat)
2 medium onions, sliced thinly
1 lb chicken breasts or thighs, diced
1 carrot, sliced into 1/4-inch coins
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
3 T Indian curry powder
Celtic sea salt to taste
12 C broth
1/2 a lime
1 t roasted walnut oil (I get mine at Trader Joe’s) per serving
Small handful chopped cilantro per serving
If you haven’t already, roast the squash, cavity side down, until it’s completely soft when you prick it with a fork. This can be done way earlier.
Heat the oil in a soup pot over medium high heat. Add the onions, carrots, chicken, curry powder, and a couple of generous pinches of salt, and saute, stirring often, until the onions and carrots are soft, and the chicken is cooked through and browned. Add the garlic and cook a minute more. Scoop the squash out of its peel and mush it up with a fork. Stir the squash into the other vegetables and chicken, and let it brown for a minute or so. Taste and season with more curry powder or salt, if you want.
Pour in the broth, starting with half, and stir it into the vegetable and chicken mixture. Add more broth until you’re satisfied with the consistency of the soup – this is all about you and your dinner preferences. Squeeze in half a lime and stir again. Heat through and ladle into six bowls (or two, with lots left over, if you’re me). Drizzle each bowl with a bit of roasted walnut oil and sprinkle with a bit of cilantro.
Enjoy. Enjoy seconds. Enjoy tomorrow.