Sunday, November 27, 2011

Coconut Curry Butternut Squash Soup

Coconut Curry Butternut Squash Soup

After a lucky string of seriously beautiful days surrounding Thanksgiving, the weather quickly turned in a major way today.  Cold and windy and drizzly, it was the kind of Sunday where staying inside a warm house all day just seems like such a good idea.  Another good idea for days like this one?  Soup making.  Because there’s nothing quite like soup for warming up a yucky day.  And so, while Ben and I settled in back home after a weekend away, I made us a pot of this curried Butternut squash soup. 

Coconut Curry Butternut Soup

I’ve been wanting to make a curried squash soup for a while now, and on the ride home from Toledo yesterday, I’d jotted down a few ideas on how to go about doing it.  I knew I wanted to include coconut milk, because I just love how coconut can both bring out and tame the sweet heat of a curry.  And I knew my soup had to contain loads and loads of vegetables, crowding the broth, pushing the limits from the realm of soup into nearly a stew.  I had a picture of the end result in mind:  Vibrant yellow and creamy, with tender pieces of deep orange  squash squeezed in a bright mosaic of greens and reds and golds.  So this morning, I resisted the urge to stay indoors, and made a quick trip to the produce market, collecting in my basket one giant onion, two slender pale green leeks,  a couple of cherry-red bell peppers, a package of very green baby spinach, a smooth long-necked squash, a head of garlic, and a small bulb of ginger.  Everything else I’d need, I was pretty sure I’d have in my cupboard back at home.

Squash, Garlic, Ginger & Peppers

Slicing Butternut Squash

After a laid back half-hour or so of vegetable slicing, I warmed up my big soup pot on the stove, then pulled down from the cupboards the other ingredients I’d jotted down in my car ride brain-storming session:  fish sauce, Thai red chile paste, brown sugar, curry powder.  As soon as the vegetables were in the pot, this soup just seemed to take care of itself, and within no time at all, my pot was filled with an exact picture of the soup I’d envisioned.  A sunny yellow broth, smooth and creamy, with ribbons of green spinach drifting though wide flecks of red peppers, orange squash and shimmery white onions.  Such a bright and beautiful concoction, just what the gloomy day had ordered!

Soups up!

As pretty as this soup is, it’s even better tasting than it looks, if you can believe it.  Sweet and smooth, with warm curry spices and a cool coconut undercurrent, it hits all the notes needed to really make you smile.  A small handful of roasted cashews sprinkled on top added a touch of crunch and saltiness, and a squeeze of lime and sprinkling of fresh cilantro leaves gave a bit of fresh brightness.  Spoonful after spoonful, I couldn’t wipe away a little grin, so happy to have achieved the the results I was after, and just plain glad to be eating such good soup, period. :)

Coconut Curry Butternut Squash Soup
Serves 6 to 8
Squash Curry Soup 
2 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 Tablespoons butter
1 large onion, peeled, 1/2-inch diced
2 medium leeks, 1/2-inch diced, rinsed well *
2 red bell peppers, seeded & cored, 1/2-inch diced
2 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
2 teaspoons fresh ginger, peeled and minced
2 teaspoons Thai red chile paste
1 teaspoon curry powder
2 Tablespoons dark brown sugar
2 pound butternut squash, peeled and seeded, 1/2-inch diced
1 (15-ounce) can coconut milk
3 cups chicken stock
juice from 1 lime
1 Tablespoon fish sauce
5 ounces baby spinach
kosher salt & freshly ground black pepper, to taste
about 1/2 cup salted roasted cashews, for garnish
cilantro, for garnish
All Chopped Up
Heat the olive oil and butter in a large soup pot over medium-high heat.  When the butter has melted, add the diced onion, leeks and red peppers.  Season generously with salt and pepper and cook, stirring frequently, until the vegetables are just tender and the onions are translucent, about seven to ten minutes.  Add the garlic and ginger and cook, stirring frequently, about two minutes.  Add the chile paste, curry powder and brown sugar and cook for two more minutes, stirring frequently.  Add the diced butternut squash and stir to combine.  Add the coconut milk and chicken stock and stir to combine.  Increase the heat to bring to a simmer, then reduce the heat to maintain a gentle simmer.  Cook, stirring occasionally, until the squash is tender, about 15 minutes.  Add the lime juice, fish sauce and spinach and stir to combine.  Continue to cook only until the spinach has wilted.  Taste, then season as needed with salt, pepper, more lime juice or more fish sauce.  Serve in soup bowls, garnished with cashews and cilantro, if you’d like. 
* For tips on cleaning and slicing leeks, refer to this post


  1. Kate this looks amazing! I am so excited to try this recipe!! :)

  2. Thanks, Erin! I'd say come over and have a bowl, but it's already gone!!

  3. Beautiful!!! I love the colors- and the plates are so cute as well!!