Today I am excited to present you the first of my posts in partnership with McCormick Spices on the occasion of the launch of their Flavor Forecast 2012. What is the Flavor Forecast? “The Flavor Forecast has been a leader in identifying emerging culinary trends that inspire a passion for flavor for over a decade. New this year, our global forecast pinpoints the forces that will drive culinary innovation around the world in the coming years.” The report is compiled by chefs, sensory scientists, trend trackers, marketing experts and food technologists from around the world. This year, to launch the Forecast, McCormick invited a group of bloggers to participate in a webinar with Chef Mark Garcia who presented the six culinary trends of this year’s report: Honoring Roots, Quest for the Ultimate, Veggies in Vogue, Simplicity Shines, Flavorful Swaps, and No Boundaries. Each trend is brought to life through 12 regional flavor combinations and taste experiences.
Apart from being an opportunity to flex my creative muscles in the kitchen, I am grateful because it provided me the much needed push to finally organise my spice rack 😉
As soon as I saw the list of flavours and combinations listed in the report, I honed in on a few right away. I love the idea of Asian flavours when it’s so cold so I was torn between “Honoring Roots” (using foundational flavours, like coriander for Asian cuisine) and “Veggies in Vogue” (where they spice up squash with pancetta and red curry). In the end I took the coconut from the “Simplicity Shines” trend, and mixed it with cumin and coriander in a spicy soup, taking my own approach to the Flavor Forecast flavors to create an original recipe.
Since the weather has finally decided it’s winter, it’s most definitely soup time. One of my favourite soups to make is a butternut squash soup but sometimes it can be a little on the bland side. I knew that cumin, coriander, crushed red pepper flakes and coconut milk would make for a creamy-with-a-kick bowl of goodness. A little Asian inspiration, if you will. The toasted sesame seeds (honestly, I didn’t even know you could buy these, I always toast my own but hey, pretty handy!) would make a perfect garnish!
I started out roasting the butternut squash in the oven for about an hour. I rubbed it over with olive oil, salt, pepper, and ground cumin and coriander. This really helped give the squash a good flavour even before it’s in the soup pot – meaning it cuts down on the actual cooking time of the soup. Throw the squash in the oven and go about your business. Your house will be filled with delicious smells
After your squash is cooked and cooled, you’re set to make your soup. Because the squash is cooked already, it’s a cinch to whip this up in about 1/2 an hour.
- 1 medium butternut squash
- 2 teaspoons ground coriander
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 teaspoons coarse salt
- 2 teaspoons freshly ground pepper
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 onion, chopped
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 teaspoons crushed red pepper flakes
- 250 mls (1 cup) chicken stock
- 250 mls (1 cup) coconut milk
- toasted sesame seeds, to garnish
- crushed red pepper flakes, to garnish
- finely sliced green onions, to garnish
- Pre-heat oven to 375˚F.
- Cut butternut squash in half and scoop out seeds and stringy part.
- Sprinkle 1 teaspoon of cumin, coriander, salt and pepper on each half, then pour over 1 tablespoon olive oil over each half, rubbing gently to make sure spices are well distributed.
- Roast for 60 minutes.
- Remove from oven.
- Allow to cool and remove flesh from skin by scooping out with a spoon.
- Heat remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil in a heavy saucepan over medium-high heat.
- Sautée onions until translucent, about 3 minutes.
- Lower heat to medium, add the garlic and red pepper flakes and cook for a further 3 minutes.
- Add the roasted squash and coat thoroughly with the onion/garlic/ pepper flakes mixture.
- Add the chicken stock and coconut milk, increase the heat to high and bring to a boil.
- Once the soup has come to a boil, decrease heat to low and simmer for 15 minutes.
- Purée to smooth with an immersion or regular blender.
- Serve with a sprinkle of toasted sesame seeds, crushed red pepper flakes and finely sliced green onions.
*I* loved this soup and was happy that my resident “It could use a little spice” taster enjoyed it too. The creaminess from the coconut milk offsets the spice from the red pepper flakes (surprisingly powerful considering how little is used) and it makes for a warm bowl of great flavours on a cold winter’s day.
Disclosure: I was provided with compensation as well as a kit of herbs, spices and other ingredients featured in the McCormick Flavour Forecast 2012 in exchange for writing two posts about the Flavor Forecast. All opinions are 100% my own.