My dear friend and fellow chef up at the shooting lodge, Carolina, came to visit me not too long ago. When she arrived, she came bearing a precious gift for me that she’d discovered at the Spice Shop in Notting Hill. ”You can sprinkle this on anything and everything,” she told me. ”It’s terrific in soups or really any dish that you want to spice up a bit.” It was a small baggie of Indonesian Laska spice mix. According to my research this particular spice mixture can be purchased in packets at many online outlets or perhaps an Asian grocer near you. I especially love cooking with it during these dreary winter months because it magically transports me to a sunnier, warmer climate and invigorates the somewhat humdrum items available during this season into zingy delights.
Butternut squash tends to err on the side of being too sweet for my liking. Normally I pair it with extremely salty, fatty ingredients to pull it back from its natural cloying state, but its one of those foods that’s good for you and cheap and if done right, can be delicious. This squash and a few simple ingredients sprinkled with my magic Laska spice mix, will give you a soup that’s one of my favorites. Even my darling husband, who shuns butternut squash at all other times, has told me this is his favorite soup. So there!
Laska Spiced Butternut Squash Soup
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, sliced
2 garlic cloves, crushed
2 tablespoons laska spice mix (start with less and go from there as you can’t be certain how spicy your particular brand will be)
6 cups of chicken or vegetable stock
1 cup coconut milk
Juice of one lime
In a large saucepan heat your olive oil and add the onions and garlic. Sautee until softened, about 5 minutes. Now add your squash cubes and the laska spices. Allow these to cook and combine with the onions and garlic for another 5 minutes. Add the stock, bring to a boil and reduce the heat to medium low for about 25 minutes or until the squash can be easily pierced with a knife tip. Blend with an immersion blender or in a blender until smooth, add the coconut milk and lime juice. Taste and adjust the seasoning until it is to your liking.