Butternut Squash and Leek Soup with Roasted Cauliflower and Toasted Egusi Seeds

I've been staring at the egusi seeds on my counter for a few weeks as I tried to figure out how to use them. Egusi looks almost exactly like a watemelon on the outside, but looks completely different on the inside with bitter white flesh and delicious seeds that taste like pumpkin seeds. 

Most people will know egusi through the famous Nigerian egusi soup (more appropriately called a stew), which is one of my favorite West African dishes. But the whole point of this food blog is to try new things, right? So I racked my brain and wondered what they would taste like toasted. They're about 30% protein, and a great addition to any vegetarian's diet.

Egusi seeds are usually ground before they're added to soup, so I've never eaten them whole. After I made this soup, I discovered that roasted egusi seeds have a delicious nutty taste that's a cross between sesame seeds and peanuts. They make a great addition to thick soups because of the little crunch they add. I think I'll roast some and eat them as a snack next , or experiment and see what they taste like as a nut butter.

Serves 2

1 large butternut squash, chopped and cubed
2 cups leeks, sliced and roughy chopped
1 shallot, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 cups of chicken stock
1 teaspoon cumin
1 head cauliflower
1/4 cup egusi seeds
3 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and cayenne pepper, to taste

  1. In a medium-sized pot, heat the oil. Add the leeks, shallot, and garlic, and cook until softened. Cook for 10 minutes, then add the spices.
  2. Add the chicken stock with 2 cups of water and salt and cook on low to medium heat for about 30 minutes or until the squash is soft and the soup becomes fragrant.
  3. Using an immersion blender or a standing blender, blend the soup until it is uniform in texture.
  4. In a large pan, add 1 teaspoon of oil. Add cauliflower and brown on both sides. Add salt and pepper, then set aside.
  5. In a small pan, add a tiny bit of butter and add the egusi seeds. Brown them on both sides over low heat.