Can be vegetarian or vegan and/or gluten free!
It’s like dark thirty in what feels like all the time in New Hampshire now. I’ve been in the White Mountains for a week, and with the time change – wow. By 6pm, I can’t decide whether I’m ready to crawl into bed or eat dinner. Or eat dinner in bed. Well, thankfully, I made a big pot, and I mean a BIG pot of this fabulous, velvety smooth, butternut squash soup that has enough zip to give me another jolt of energy before I call it quits for the night.
I was eager to try coconut milk in a soup recipe and the idea of combining butternut squash and coconut milk was intriguing. Also, the food world is already oversaturated with pumpkin spiced things and I wanted a different flavor profile. I remembered that many years ago, a friend had made a fabulous coconut based pumpkin soup and despite the fact that I can’t remember where I just put my phone, I could remember the cookbook she used (which I also own) 15 years later. Go figure.
The recipe originates from Anya Von Bremzen’s Terrific Pacific Cookbook. Even though there is really only me and the DH to feed, I love to make big batches of things to fill my freezer for quick meals. I mean, I don’t want to have to cook every meal from scratch, and since we are both at home now, I’ve got BOTH lunch AND dinner to cover, so if I’m going to go through the process of cooking, might as well double the recipe and make my time well spent. This recipe makes 12 servings, and if you are not a Freezer Queen like me, you can easily half it. But let me tell you, it freezes just swell, and didn’t lose any flavor, so really consider the full batch! I use freezer zip lock bags and stack them. So easy.
Mostly what I have changed in the recipe, is halving the amount of coconut milk used and changing up the cooking method to speed up the process. For years, I have preached the wonders of the Cuisinart immersion blender, which considering that some of the time I live in an apartment in Portland, Maine with a miniature kitchen with zero counter space, is what I should use for efficiency’s sake. But my Vitamix was staring me in the face and I thought I should give it a whirl. I mean, look what it’s done for the world of home smoothie making. Well, OMG, in the world of soup making, the difference is noticeable. And remarkable. Yes, it’s a sloppy procedure, two or three batches of pureeing the liquidy mixture require pulling out another bowl and potentially splashing you and your counters with splats of squash, but once you taste that velvety smooth texture enhanced by full fat coconut milk, you will realize this is what restaurants have been doing for years. And if you own a Vitamix, or another high powered blender, you should be employing it for your soup endeavors, too.
This recipe can easily be adapted for a vegan diet by simply substituting the butter for coconut oil and using vegetable stock instead of chicken stock. If you are purchasing vegetable stock, I would opt for one that was not too dramatically tomato based because I think that would alter the flavor too much.
Lastly, those red chilies….I wrote 1 to 2 so you can decide on the level of heat. I always tend to err on the milder side to avoid heart stopping heartburn for myself, but feel free to dial it up and use the full amount, especially if you want to clean out your sinuses. Can’t find fresh red chile peppers? Then use a jalapeno instead, or certainly go with 1/4 teaspoon of ground cayenne pepper. I find cayenne to be the most pervasive throughout the soup, whereas the fresh chiles give more of a pop with each sip and they are still my preference.
I hope you love it! Let me know what you think in the comments below!
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter or coconut oil
- 2 cups chopped onions
- 6 cloves garlic, chopped or pressed
- Preferably 1 to 2 small Thai red chile peppers or 1 jalapeno OR you can substitute ¼ tsp. ground cayenne pepper instead (add it with other spices below)
- 2 teaspoons good quality curry powder (I use Penzey's Maharajah curry powder)
- 4 teaspoons ground ginger
- 3 teaspoons ground coriander
- 2 teaspoons paprika
- 2 quarts chicken or vegetable stock (Pacific is my preferred brand)
- 5 ½ lbs. butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into 2-inch cubes
- 2 – 14 ounce cans unsweetened full-fat coconut milk
- 4 tablespoons nama shoyu sauce (unpasteurized soy sauce)
- ½ to 1 cup chopped cilantro
- 6 tablespoons fresh lemon or lime juice
- ½ teaspoon salt, or to taste
- Garnish: unsweetened shredded coconut
- In a very large pot (7-9 qt.), melt butter or coconut oil over medium heat. Add onions and cook for 5 minutes until softened. Meanwhile, if using chile peppers, remove and discard seeds and membrane, mince flesh. Add garlic and chile peppers (if using), cook for 2 minutes. Add curry, ginger, coriander and paprika, and (only if using in place of chile peppers) ¼ teaspoon ground cayenne pepper, and cook for 1 – 2 minutes. Add squash and stock, bring to a low boil and cook, uncovered, adjusting heat as necessary, for approximately 20 minutes, until a fork can easily pierce squash.
- Carefully transfer squash mixture in batches to container of a high powered blender and puree until smooth, starting at a low power and increasing to high, about 30 to 60 seconds. Pour pureed mixture into a large clean bowl. Alternatively, use an immersion blender in pot and puree until smooth.
- If you used a blender, wipe out pot, and pour in squash mixture. Add soy sauce, coconut milk, lemon or lime juice, and cilantro to soup and stir until combined. Taste for salt, add as necessary, heat through, and serve immediately, garnishing each serving with shredded coconut.
2. Can be made ahead. Refrigerate in a tightly covered container for up to 5 days.
3. Freezes well. Store in tight lidded freezer safe containers or zip lock bags until ready to use, up to 2 months. Brighten flavors with a squirt of lemon juice, and fresh chopped cilantro, if necessary.