Recipe: Ioana’s Squash Soup

Ioana Weber

PhD Student, AG Tarabykin


1 large red onion (red onions have a more sweet, autumnal flavor than yellow ones)

750 mL vegetable broth (prepare ahead according to broth instructions and set aside in a pot on low heat)

1 tablespoon mustard seeds

1 kg butternut squash (a trick I learned from Cooking for Geeks: peel a slice off one side to have a surface to rest the squash on, then cut using a mallet to punch a large knife longitudinally through the squash. Scoop out seeds with a spoon and discard them).

3 dried bay leaves

Cut the squash in cubes with a side of approximately two centimeters. In a bowl, toss cubes with olive oil, sprinkle with salt, and bake at 200 °C until they soften enough to be easily pierced through with a fork (around 20 minutes).

In the meanwhile, peel and cut the onion. Fry in a tall pot along with a spoon of mustard seeds until onion is translucent (frying the mustard seeds helps to release their volatile compounds. Caution, some of them might pop, spritzing hot oil!). Set the pot aside.

Check on the squash cubes. If soft, add to the fried onions. Add bay leaves. Pour broth onto pumpkin until all the pieces are covered and bring to a boil, then let cool down for 10-15 minutes with a lid on the pot. Immerse a blender into the pot or pour the soup into a food processor and grind to a smooth paste. Taste the soup and season it with two pinches of salt first, then with all or some of these spices:

Ground nutmeg

Powdered ginger

Smoked paprika (Paprika de la Vera)

Ground cumin

Pinch of cayenne, or more, depending on your tolerance to spiciness

For an extra crunch, top with toasted walnut slivers. Serve with cream (try Creme Vega for a very convincing vegan replacement), fresh ciabatta, and pair with a Riesling or Gewürztraminer, or a Masala Chai for a non-alcoholic option.

This article originally appeared in the Charité Neuroscience Newsletter

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