I grew up gathering around the table for dinner every night with my family. It became such a ritual that I didn’t even notice that not everyone ate this way. We’d come to the table, wait for everyone to be seated, go around and share what we were thankful for, and then eat. When we had finished, my sister and I had to ask to be excused and then bus our dishes to the sink. And when we visited my grandparents house, we had to wait to start eating until my grandmother raised her fork. (Torture when there's a plate full of hot rolls and pork chops in front of you). The rules were a bit more lax at home.
I decided I need more family meals around the table in my life, so I created Thursday Night Supper Club. Every Thursday night I invite friends over and cook a simple, family style dinner. (I do let people leave the table without asking to be excused, however. I’m laid-back like that these days). People always ask what they can bring and, while I am a huge fan of potlucks, this one is all me. While most of my friends toil at work all day, I have the luxury of heading home from
the coffee shop the office early to get a head start on dinner. Heck, I can even chalk it up to ‘research’ since maybe I’ll write about it in my future-fantasy-career-where-people-pay-me-to-write-about-food. Or at least I can share it with you, dear reader.
I’ve been putting off telling you about this new club of mine, and I’m not quite sure why. Maybe because it’s hard to take any decent pictures at dinner time, thanks to our 49th parallel sun that sets at early o’clock. Or maybe because these dinners feel like intimate gatherings of friends and to spill the secrets of our conversations (or admit to the number of bottles of wine consumed) feels a bit violating. Or maybe it’s just because I’m a huge procrastinator and I haven’t made the time to sit down and write.
So how about this. I’ll do my best to take some decent (albeit fluorescent lit) photos. I’ll share my menu with you each week, and also a recipe for one of the dishes I make. And, if it seems like I’m not spilling anyone’s secrets, maybe I’ll even share a line or two from the dinner party chat. In any case, I encourage you to invite people over, cook them something delicious, and enjoy the old adage of breaking bread together. Use my menus or make up your own. (And if you make up your own, share them with me, please? I’m not even a month in and I’ve already run through my staple “guest-appropriate” dishes.)
Sam, Jude, and Ashley joined me for this soup-y dinner. Sam, Ashley, and I went to college together… but we didn’t actually know each other in college. I have lots of friends like that, where I’m not quite sure when or how we became friends but we did and I’m glad about it. Ashley works seemingly all hours of the day and night on her PhD, Sam is some sort of environmental detective who cleans up superfund sites, and Jude works at That Tech Company (well, I guess in Seattle that doesn’t actually narrow it down too much, but I can't always remember which one he's landed at these days, so this covers all the bases). So needless to say, they’re busy people and I was glad to get them all in one place for dinner.
This week’s menu:
- Coconut curry butternut squash soup
- Spinach salad with cranberry vinaigrette
- Mille grane wheat bread
- Hot mulled cider
- Ginger and cherry dark chocolate
I first made this soup when I lived out in Telluride, Colorado. My friend Jen brought it to a potluck one night when I first moved there. After I swooned over the combo of coconut curry and earthy squash, she graciously shared the recipe, which I have adapted slightly over the years. It is a crowd pleaser, even amongst the plethora of squash soups that exist these days.
Coconut Curry Squash Soup
1 butternut squash
3 cloves garlic
2” ginger root
1 box (32 oz) chicken broth
1 can coconut milk
2 tsp curry powder
Salt and pepper
Slice butternut squash lengthwise, remove the seeds and roast cut side down in a 400 degree oven for ~1 hour.
In a dutch oven (or large pot), sauté an onion (or shallot) and 3 cloves garlic in olive oil
After squash has finished roasting, scoop out soft flesh and add it to the pot
Add ~4-6 cups chicken broth and simmer for 10-15 minutes
Add salt and pepper to taste (a fair amount of both)
Add 2” of grated ginger root and curry powder to pot
Take pot off stove
Purée mixture in a blender until smooth (if you have an immersion blender, this is a great time to use it. If you don’t have one, you really should get one. Possibly the most useful kitchen tool I own).
Return puréed soup to stove
Add 1 can of coconut milk and stir to combine (you don’t want to simmer the soup too long with the coconut milk in it)
Add more seasoning to taste
Like most soups, this one tastes better the next day (though realistically I never plan that far ahead.) If you do make it ahead of time, leave out the coconut milk. Rewarm the soup on the stove and add the coconut milk right before you’re ready to serve. ‘