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A Bowl of Autumn Gold : Curried Squash Soup Makes a Hearty Last-Minute Meal

November 02, 1986|BETSY BALSLEY | Betsy Balsley is The Times' food editor.

Quick and easy meals--even though they may be filling--often tend to be utilitarian. When you're trying to get something on the table quickly, appearances frequently get short shrift. That needn't be the case with this rich, golden-orange squash soup. It not only can be prepared quickly, but it also looks every bit as rich and appetizing as it tastes.

Curry powder, cumin and a dash of fresh black pepper add a good bite to the soup, which will be ready to serve by the time you have whipped up a batch of quick corn bread and a crisp salad.

And since that's all that's needed to make a simple yet satisfying meal, you'll have no qualms about inviting guests to share an easy autumn meal at the last minute. If you prefer dining alone, however, don't be intimidated by the quantity that the following recipe makes. Serving-sized leftovers will freeze beautifully, providing you with even quicker meals in the future.

CURRIED SQUASH SOUP

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 teaspoon oil

1 large onion, minced

8 large yellow crookneck squash, coarsely chopped

4 large tomatoes, peeled, seeded and coarsely chopped

6 cups chicken broth

4 teaspoons curry powder or 1 teaspoon hot curry powder

2 teaspoons nutmeg

2 teaspoons cumin seeds

3/4 cup brown sugar, packed

Salt, freshly ground black pepper

In large saucepan, melt butter with oil and add onion. Saute until onion is tender but not brown. Add squash, tomatoes and chicken broth. Stir in curry powder, nutmeg, cumin and sugar. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium, partially cover and simmer 30 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Blend in processor or blender until smooth. Return to saucepan and heat. Garnish with thin slices of crookneck squash and wedges of tomato, if desired. Makes 10 to 12 servings. PRODUCED BY ROBIN TUCKER FOOD STYLIST: NONA BAER

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