Sweet Potato and Curry Corn Chowder

For the first course at my Thanksgiving meal I usually start with a festive salad, but this year I wanted to try a soup. While smooth, root based soups typically abound for the holiday meal, I wanted to go for a chunky, curry corn chowder.

sweet Potato Chowder

One of the key ingredients I wanted to use is sweet potatoes.   I LOVE sweet potatoes, but my husband doesn’t care for them. Somehow that doesn’t stop me from picking up a large bag full this time of year. My thinking is that if I sneak them into a soup so filled with other vegetables, maybe he won’t even notice that they are there.

In addition to the sweet potatoes, I used a variety of other vegetables: carrots, celery, onion and corn, plus acorn squash to thicken the soup, eliminating the need for flour or corn starch (whoo hoo – gluten free!). To give it a kick, I stirred in just a bit of hot madras curry powder. Not only did it add just a hint of exotic flavor, it ramped up the golden hue of the soup.

The resulting sweet potato & curry corn chowder is a perfect start for a Thanksgiving meal – full of fall flavor yet not too rich that you can’t enjoy the rest of your meal. But why wait for a holiday meal? It is easy to whip together and is a great addition to any dinner feast or a tired lunch box.

sweet Potato Chowder

 


Sweet Potato and Curry Corn Chowder

2 lb acorn squash
¼ cup butter
¼ cup diced shallots
1 cup diced celery
1 cup diced carrots
1 teaspoon freshly minced garlic
3 cups peeled and diced sweet potato
2 cups frozen corn kernels
4 cups chicken stock
2 cups cashew milk
2 teaspoons hot madras curry powder
1 teaspoon salt
Crumbled, precooked bacon (optional)

 

Preheat the oven to 350 °F. Cut the acorn squash in half and place cut side down in a 9×13 inch pan filled with 1 in of water. Roast for 1 hour or until flesh becomes soft.

In a large pot, melt butter over medium-high heat. Add the shallots, celery, and carrots. Saute for 3 minutes to soften, then add garlic and saute for 1 minute longer. Add the sweet potato, corn, stock, and cashew milk and bring to a boil. Boil for a few minutes or until the sweet potato pieces are tender. Scoop the acorn squash flesh from the skin (equals about 3 cups) and add to a food processor, along with 1 cup of hot liquid from the soup. Blend the acorn squash until smooth, and then add to the soup pot; stir to mix evenly. Add the curry powder and salt to the pot, stirring to evenly distribute. Ladle into bowls and serve with crumbled bacon, if desired.

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Bratwurst Stuffed Acorn Squash

Surprisingly, fall in Colorado has stayed relatively warm.  Despite the lack of cooler nights, I have gotten into the fall spirit.  Perhaps it is the pumpkin flavored everything you see popping up in the grocery stores, but I felt a squash based supper was in order.

Stuffed Acorn Squash

Why not celebrate the start of fall with a Bratwurst Stuffed Acorn Squash dinner?  In particular, I thought my kids would get a kick out of the boat-like shape and maybe actual eat more or the acorn squash than typical. I also decided to ramp up the fall fest theme by using uncased, ground pork bratwurst. When combined with the onions and carrots, and seasoned with cloves, fenugreek, and basil the dish perfumed the house with delicious smells and made me want to throw on a sweater to get into the spirit of fall, despite the 85 °F weather.

Stuffed Acorn Squash

The Bratwurst Stuffed Acorn Squash was a great break from the typical grilled dinners we have been enjoying lately.  It also reminded me to occasionally find ways to make dinner fun for the kiddos, especially when trying new foods or ones they haven’t had in a while.  Do you have a favorite, kid-fun dinner idea?

Stuffed Acorn Squash


Bratwurst Stuffed Acorn Squash

3 medium sized acorn squash, halved and seeded
1 lb German style bratwurst ground pork, uncased
4 tablespoons butter
1 cup diced red onion
½ cup diced carrot
1 cup precooked long grain rice
1 teaspoon ground basil
1/2 teaspoon fenugreek
1/8 teaspoon ground clove
1 cup shredded mozzarella

 

Preheat oven to 375 °F. Add an inch of water to a roasting pan and place the acorn squash halves cut side down. Bake for 45 minutes or until squash is tender yet still holds its shape.

Meanwhile make stuffing by first frying pork sausage until light brown. Remove pork and add to a large bowl. Melt the butter in the pan used to cook the sausage, then add the onions and carrots and saute them for 3 minutes. Add the rice and stir to coat, then remove from the heat and add to the pork. Add the fenugreek, cloves, and basil to the pork mixture and stir until well mixed.

Remove the squash from the oven, turn the squash cut side up and then fill evenly with the sausage stuffing. Sprinkle the cheese evenly over the top of the squash and return to the oven for about 10 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and the stuffing heated through.

Remove from the oven and serve immediately.

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Adzuki Bean Salad

Since I am always on the lookout for new, healthy foods to incorporate into my family’s diet, it was about time that we tried adzuki beans.

Adzuki beans (also called aduki beans) are a part of the legume family. They are often found in red bean paste used in Asian cooking and are easier to digest compared to other beans.  After slowly cooking the adzuki beans, I mixed them with some butternut squash, avocado, and balsamic vinaigrette to make a colorful and delightful salad.

adzukiBeanSalad_3

Why try a new bean, you ask?

*Did you know that beans can count as vegetables or as a protein source in your diet? (although the Botanists among us might argue that they are a fruit)

*They are a source of high fiber, important minerals, and useful nutrients.

*Can you really argue with trying something new?

My whole family (kids included!) enjoy eating this as a side salad, though we have been known to eat it as a lunchtime meal with a bit of chicken stirred into the Adzuki Bean Salad and served over mixed greens.

adzukiBeanSalad_1

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Adzuki Bean Salad

1 ½ cups dried adzuki beans

2 ½ cups cubed butternut squash, cooked

1 avocado, cubed

2/3 cup olive oil

1/3 cup balsamic vinegar

½ teaspoon salt

2 cloves fresh garlic, minced

 

Place the adzuki beans in a large pot with 4 ½ cups of water. Place over medium heat and bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 1 ½ hours, or until beans are tender, adding additional water if necessary (I usually have to add 1-2 more cups of water after about an hour). Drain the beans and place in a large bowl, then stir in the butternut and avocado. In a small bowl, stir together the oil, vinegar, salt, and garlic then pour over the bean salad and stir to coat. Serve immediately; refrigerate any leftovers.

Note: Some cooking instructions recommend soaking the beans prior to use. My package indicated that no soaking was required, however I recommend checking your package and adjusting your cooking time as necessary if soaking is required.

 

 

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