Thai Curried Squash Soup

Arriving home from a long vacation, I looked around my kitchen, realize there is very little fresh in the house, and decided to make a pantry soup for friends arriving for dinner and a movie. Squash can keep almost forever in a cool location, and I had these leftover from my last few CSA pick-ups in November. A few onions, carrots and apples relaxing nicely in my crisper, and some pantry basics rounded out this spicy, creamy soup with inspiration from a recipe from Bon Appetit.

2 Tbs. unsalted butter
1 cup diced white onion
1 cup diced carrots
1.2 cup diced fuji apple
2-4 tsps. red thai chili paste
2 medium crook neck squash, peeled, seeded and diced
4 cups rich vegetable broth
2 bay leaves
1 14 oz. can light coconut milk
1 tsp. salt
pepper to taste

Melt the butter in a large soup pot. Add the onions, carrots and apple, cooking on medium-high and stirring often, until the onions are golden. Add the chili paste, stirring to coat the vegetables, and cook for 3 minutes, until the paste toasts and becomes fragrant. Add the squash, vegetable both and bay leaves, raising heat to high and bringing to a boil. Cover and lower heat to medium-low, keeping broth at a low boil and stirring occasionally until vegetables are very soft, about 40 minutes. Remove the pot from heat, and remove the bay leaves from the pot. Blend the soup with an immersion blender until smooth*, and then return to heat. Add the can of coconut milk and the salt, stirring until completely blended. Add pepper to taste. Serve with toasted squash seeds.+

* You can use a regular blender to puree the soup, but be sure not to fill the vessel completely, as the steam from the hot soup can cause the lid of the blender to shoot off, and hot soup to fly everywhere!

+ keep the seeds from the squash to toast for soup or salads. Rinse the seeds, then coat with olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Toast in a 300 degree oven or toaster oven for 5 minutes.

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