Chef's Choice Recipe: Clara Moore's Curried Squash and Sweet Potato Soup

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This is part three of Robin Wheeler's Chef's Choice interview with chef Clara Moore of Local Harvest Cafe and Catering; part one is available here; part two is here.

Chef's Choice Recipe: Clara Moore's Curried Squash and Sweet Potato Soup
Robin Wheeler

While overseeing the kitchen at Local Harvest Cafe and Catering, Clara Moore has also ventured into teaching. She started teaching soup classes last winter.

"Soups are thing I wanted to make so long ago and I just couldn't get it," she said. "My mom never made soup. She made chicken soup, of course. Even in culinary school I wasn't taught very well. When I started working at Local Harvest, it was a situation where I wanted to make soups. I understood the formula. There's really just a few formulas to it."

She applies one of the simple formulas to her Curried Squash and Sweet Potato Soup, which makes use of some of the most plentiful cold-weather produce available locally.

Sometimes too plentiful. "This was one of the toughest winters. I was so sick of butternut squash and sweet potatoes. I wanted to break down and buy some asparagus. What saved me was I got this awesome little sprouter. To grow sprouts was a godsend. A little bit of green vegetable matter."

While this soup doesn't use the greens, it puts a different spin on the ever-present sweet potatoes and butternut squash. With an eye towards southeast Asian spice, Moore brings the heavy winter vegetables into spring. She adds a sweat-inducing degree of red curry to balance the sweetness of the roasted vegetables. Coconut milk lightens the load, making the soup delicate enough to make the transition into spring.

If available, cut a head of cauliflower into florets and roast. Add a few florets to each bowl of soup for extra crunch and another layer of flavor.

Chef's Choice Recipe: Clara Moore's Curried Squash and Sweet Potato Soup
Robin Wheeler

Curried Squash and Sweet Potato Soup serves 4-6 2 smallish butternut squash, cut in half 1 medium sweet potato 1 large russet potato, peeled and chopped 1 yellow onion, diced 4 cloves garlic, chopped 2 tbsp minced ginger 1 tbsp olive oil + extra for drizzling 2 tbsp red curry paste Water or vegetable stock 1 tsp sea salt 1 13.5-ounce can coconut milk Smoked paprika, to garnish

1. Place squash, cut side down, on a tray with the sweet potato. Drizzle with oil. Roast in a 350-degree oven until soft. Set aside to cool.

2. Place onions and olive oil in soup pot. Cook on medium heat until translucent. Add garlic, ginger, curry paste and russet potatoes. Cook for five more minutes.

3. Add enough water or stock to cover ingredients, plus one inch. Bring to a boil.

4. Once boiling, remove sweet potato and squash from their skins and add to pot.

5. Simmer soup until the russets are soft and break apart with a fork.

6. Remove pot from heat and blend soup in blender. Add coconut milk, salt and paprika.

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