Curried Butternut Squash Soup
There was a rough 6-month period this past summer/fall where the city was repairing the water main (is that what it’s called?) on my block. During this time, the water in my building was shut off roughly twice a week from 9am-6pm, which had a seriously detrimental effect on my quality of life.
Prior to being deprived of my water supply on the reg, I never realized how much I rely on good old H20 throughout the day. To shower and drink, sure, but those weren’t the real biggies. (Honestly, I shower as infrequently as possible and get most of my hydration from La Croix.) What I really require water for is my day-to-day kitchen activities. I need it to poach eggs and cook pasta and grains. To clean my produce. To wash psychotic amounts of dishes and more importantly, my hands. Flushing the toilet is also nice in the “work place.”
Needless to say, recipe development became complicated. I won’t bore you with details, but let’s just say I once forgot about a scheduled water shut-off and started testing a fish recipe. Big mistake. HUGE.
Finding it unacceptable that the city would do this to me, my roommate gallantly contacted our building’s management company to express his outrage. (Keep in mind, this is the same dude who called Time Warner when our Internet was out and reamed them for costing his work-from-home girlfriend “tens of thousands of dollars!!!” in revenue. That one still cracks me up/motivates me to be someone who earns “tens of thousands” of Internet-related dollars per day while sitting on her couch. Fingies crossed!) Unsurprisingly, the company said there was nothing they could do about the water. They were sorry the shut-offs were inconvenient for me but noted that most “normal people” are at work during those hours. Fair point. Blergh.
Not to worry, peeps, there is obviously a silver lining to this story! The drought conditions in my apartment forced me to get creative with my recipe development, and I began playing with plant-based recipes (Salmonella would really suck) that only required one-pot (the concept of doing a mountain of dishes come 6pm depressed me) and relied on produce that didn’t need washing (read: squash and root vegetables). As luck would have it, there were so many wins. Most of these culinary triumphs were of the soup/stew variety, and my personal favorite was this magical Curried Butternut Squash Soup, which I’ve continued to make almost weekly even though 24/7 water usage has been restored.
This definitely isn’t your run-of-the mill butternut squash soup, friends. The addition of Thai red curry paste and coconut milk give this one-pot wonder a unique sweet and spicy profile with a luxurious, silky texture. And it just so happens to be vegan, gluten-free, paleo, and Dude Diet-friendly (Logan can attest to its dankness), so it’s got serious crowd-pleasing potential. Thank GOD for broken water mains, amiright?
When it comes to toppings, I’m partial to a drizzle of chili oil with cilantro and pomegranate arils—so Christmasy bright and fresh—but the you do you garnishing possibilities are endless. The soup is also delightful with chopped peanuts or cashews, scallions, chives, coconut cream, pesto, herb-infused oil, crumbled bacon(!), etc., etc. Let your creative juices flow.
I love this satisfying soup for lunch, as a very light cleansing dinner (which we could all probably use right about now), or as a festive appetizer for entertaining, so please get on it ASAP. After all, you’ll only have to wash one pot…
p.s. I really hope you dig butternut squash because I screwed up my editorial calendar and have another butternut recipe on deck. You’re welcome? Sorry?
Curried Butternut Squash Soup: (Serves 4)
1 tablespoon liquid extra-virgin coconut oil (Yes, you can also use extra-virgin olive oil.)
1 medium yellow onion, diced
3 tablespoons Thai red curry paste (Thai Kitchen makes a good one.)
1 medium butternut squash (about 2½ -2¾ pounds), cut into roughly ½-inch cubes (about 6 cups cubed squash)
1 13.5-ounce can light coconut milk (I like Native Forest brand.)
2 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon low-sodium tamari (or low-sodium soy sauce)
1 teaspoon coconut palm sugar (or brown sugar)
For garnish (optional):
Freshly chopped cilantro
Preparing your Curried Butternut Squash Soup:
-Heat the coconut oil in a Dutch oven or heavy-bottomed soup pot over medium heat. When the oil is hot and shimmering, add the onion and cook for 4-5 minutes or until softened and translucent.
-Add the curry paste and cook for 2-3 minutes to unlock the curry’s magical flavors.
-Stir in the cubed butternut squash, coconut milk, vegetable broth, tamari, and sugar. Bring to a boil, then lower to a simmer. Cover and cook for 30 minutes or until the squash is very tender.
-Puree the soup using an immersion blender, OR transfer the soup to a blender and puree until silky smooth. You’ll likely have to do this in 2 batches. (Remember to remove the plastic stopper in the blender’s lid and cover the hole with a dish towel while blending. You need to allow steam to escape or you will likely have a hot soup explosion. No bueno.) Taste the soup and season with a little salt and pepper if necessary.
-Serve warm garnished with pomegranate, cilantro and chili oil if you’re feeling fancy.
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