My co-workers and I have been talking a lot about using the crock-pot to make ready-to-eat dinners during the busy work week. Ever since our discussions, I've been noticing a plethora of cookbooks, websites, and magazine articles dedicated to using the crock-pot to make diverse and innovative meals. In fact, the crock-pot seems to be making a comeback as a viable cooking method for everyday Americans. However, crock-pots do have their limitations--they are only good for making foods with a high liquid content, such as stews and soups. Thus, even if you are one of those crock-pot junkies who knows how to make hot porridge and cake with your crock pot, you'll still have to get used to eating every meal with a spoon.
In the second installment to the Working Eater Series, I am featuring a recipe inspired by the crock-pot cooking method, but that can be made by someone who doesn't even own a crock-pot! Furthermore, because this soup is cooked on high heat, this recipe is a speedy and preferable alternative to a languid slow cooker.
Rustic, One-Pot Curry Kabocha Squash Soup
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1/2 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
4 cloves of garlic, finely minced
2 tsp of curry powder (preferably Madras brand--as it is my family's favorite)
1/4 tsp turmeric powder
1/4 tsp cumin powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 medium kabocha squash, cubed into dice-sized pieces (you can find this type of squash in Asian supermarkets)
1 can of chicken stock, plus 1 1/2 cans of water to "extend" the stock (you can also use whole milk instead of water, to make the soup creamier, but then you must stir the soup constantly to prevent the pot from overboiling and the milk from forming a tough film on the bottom of the pot)
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
In a large pot, heat the oil on high heat until shimmering. Add the chopped yellow onions, and fry until the onions begin to turn translucent. Add the garlic and fry until the onions and garlic begin to slightly caramelize.
Add the dry spices and the kabocha squash, and stir rapidly, to prevent the dry spices from burning and to fully mix the dry and wet ingredients.
Add the stock and water, and bring the soup to a rolling boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer, and cook until the squash is fork-tender.
Serve the soup with wilted spinach.
If you'd like to have meat with this soup, I would suggest adding roasted chicken or turkey breast.
For the "working eaters," if you don't have enough time to roast poultry, you could also buy a roast chicken from the supermarket, and use a fork to separate the breast meat from the bone. Add the shredded breast meat to the soup, so the meal is still a one-pot (and a one-bowl) meal! Hey, to save on time, you need to save on dishes too!