Sometime in early February, there will come a day when I think “If I have another butternut/acorn/spaghetti/whatever squash soup/gratin/side dish I will barf.” But that day is at least two months away. Right now, it’s the honeymoon period for me and winter squash.
What a perfect food they are. Large and substantial, they keep for long periods of time without the need for refrigeration. They are nutritious and oh so flexible. They can be roasted, boiled, mashed, sliced, blended, you name it. And to top it all, they are sweet, with natural sugars that caramelize under a blast of heat, adding notes of things tropical, far from the cold winters where they reside.
Needless to say, everyone and their mother (literally) has a recipe for butternut squash soup. But I wanted to create my own. I chose to pair butternut squash, roasted at high heat to get some nice caramelization, with coconut, admittedly a classic pairing. I kept things simple and used a selection of mostly Thai flavors. The soup lets the squash shine but it with the unmistakable background of lime and ginger and fish sauce.
The soup is lovely as is, but I’ve found that it really comes alive with a few drops of hot sauce sprinkled on top. I’ve been using Louisiana hot sauce with great success. To make it more substantial, you can add some sautéed shrimp like in the photos here. Or, as I did last weekend, place a small mount of Trader Joe’s Dried Kimchi in the center of each bowl of soup. The combination was phenomenal.
Roasted Butternut Squash and Coconut Soup
Serves 3-4 as appetizer
1 1/2 lbs (650 gr) peeled and seeded butternut squash, cut into 1 inch cubes (about 4 cups)
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 cup coconut milk
1 cup chicken or vegetable stock
1 1/2 teaspoons lime juice
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1 1/2 teaspoon fish sauce
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 red thai chili pepper, roughly chopped (optional)
Hot sauce or chili oil (optional)
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Place butternut squash cubes in large bowl, add oil, and mix well with your hands. Place on large baking sheet and roast in the oven for about 40 minutes, turning once or twice, until the edges of the squash cubes begging to turn brown. Remove from the oven and let cool for about 10 minutes.
Place roasted butternut squash and the remaining ingredients (except the chili oil or hot sauce) in a blender and blend until smooth. Pour in a medium pot and heat over medium heat. If the soup is too thick, add some more stock, one tablespoon at a time to thin it out.
Serve hot with some hot sauce or chili oil if you like.
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