Thai Coconut Butternut Squash Soup
I’ve always wanted to be a person who liked butternut squash soup but I’ve always found it too sweet or too bland. I like my soups bold and to fill me with warmth. So I was thinking about ways I could make butternut squash more suitable for my palette - it’s a naturally sweet vegetable, so spice and acid seemed like a good route to go. I’ve been on a Thai and Southeast Asian kick lately, so currying the squash in a curry paste and some coconut milk seemed like a great idea. I added in some spinach and a whole mess of basil to fortify the flavor and finished with some vinegar (because we were out of limes!) to balance everything out.
If you’re newer to Thai cooking, curry pastes are easily available in most major grocery stores and they’re certainly available online. My preferred brand is Maesri, which is available in most Chicago grocery stores and online. I have also made Thai curry paste from scratch - the ingredients for an authentic curry paste are harder to find and though fresh curry paste does taste better, I’ve generally stuck to the canned pastes. I love spicy food, so I opted for the green curry paste - if you want a milder soup, just use less of the paste or try this with a red or yellow curry paste. I recommend tasting a bit of the paste to get a feel for how spicy it is and then determining how much you can handle.
1 tsp oil
1 can coconut milk (~400 ml)
1 tbsp Thai green curry paste
1 medium butternut squash, diced into chunks
4 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
2 cups chicken or vegetable broth (low sodium)
2 tsp fish sauce
2 cups spinach leaves, roughly chopped
1 cup basil leaves (Thai, preferably)
Juice of 1 lime or 2 tsp champagne vinegar
chopped, dry roasted peanuts to serve
Peel and chop up the butternut squash; set aside.
Heat a soup pot over medium heat and add the oil. Once the oil is shimmering, add the curry paste and stir well. Add a tablespoon or so of your coconut milk and mix this well with the curry paste. Stir this mixture continuously for a minute or so; this process helps release the flavors of the curry paste and helps create more depth.
Add in the butternut squash and chopped garlic and toss well in the paste for 5 mins. Next, add in the chicken broth to the pot and cover with a lid. Cook undisturbed for 15 mins.
Remove the lid and add in the remainder of the coconut milk and the fish sauce and stir. Place the lid back on and cook for an additional 15 mins. If the coconut milk starts bubbling too high, lower the heat a little bit (this may happen if you’re using a smaller pot).
Remove the lid and add in the chopped spinach and basil. If you’re using vinegar instead of lime, add that in now as well. If you’re using lime, do not add in the lime at this point. Cook the greens uncovered for 5 mins.
Turn off the heat and using an immersion blender, puree the soup. You can also blend this in batches using a regular blender - just wait for the soup to cool a bit.
If using lime, finish the soup with lime juice. Serve with chopped, dry-roasted peanuts.