This soup was the most exciting thing to happen to me all day. I can’t tell you what happened before I lifted the spoon to my mouth, blew on the steam rising from the creamy purée, and felt the warm pocket of flavor melt on my tongue. Nothing really mattered before that bite.
With aromas of lemongrass and spice, flavors of curry and coconut, and texture like velvet, you can’t have a bad day if it includes this soup. Making it won’t put you in a bad mood, either, if you buy those big tubs of pre-cubed butternut squash from Costco. That cuts out the hardest step. If you’re making this with whole butternut squash, it’s nice to have a helper peel and dice the vegetable while you prep the other ingredients. It also gives you someone to talk to: you can gush about the scent of the lemongrass stalk, get a second opinion about how much green curry paste to use, and share in the joy of a freshly peeled knob of ginger.
Here’s what happened: I tossed the chopped aromatics into my Dutch oven over low heat and they sizzled softly, chiming into the conversation. Once they cooked down a bit, I added the squash, some Thai green curry paste and all the liquids and let the flavors talk amongst themselves for a while as I cleaned and set the table.
Even the pickiest eater in my household decided to take a bite (even though there was leftover pasta at the ready). This discerning taster took a spoonful, shrugged, nodded, then grabbed a bowl. Now my day was really made.
Butternut Squash and Green Curry Soup
Adapted from NYT Cooking recipe by Samin Nosrat
What you need:
- 1 Tbsp plus 2 tsp coconut oil, divided
- 2 medium shallots, sliced
- 1 inch of fresh ginger, peeled and sliced
- 1 lemongrass stalk, cut into 3-inch pieces, reserve 1 Tbsp for garnish (I was able to find this at my local grocery store in the produce section, near the other pre-packaged herbs)
- Kosher salt
- 1 medium butternut squash, peeled and cubed
- 1 14 oz can coconut milk, shaken well
- 2-3 Tbsp Thai green curry paste
- 2 Tbsp fish sauce, divided
- 1 cup chicken stock
- 1 cup chopped cashews
- 1 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
- 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
- 1/2-1 cup coconut water, as needed
- lime wedges and chopped cilantro, for serving
What you do:
-Melt 1 Tbsp coconut oil in a large, heavy pot over medium. Add shallots, ginger, lemongrass, and 1 tsp salt. Reduce heat to low, cook until shallots caramelize a bit, 8-10 minutes.
-Add squash, coconut milk, curry paste, 1 Tbsp fish sauce, 1 cup water or stock (if using water, add 1 tsp salt). Increase heat to high, bring to boil, reduce to simmer, cover and cook 25 minutes, stirring occasionally, until squash has almost completely broken down. Taste, if not spicy enough add more green curry paste.
-Make garnish: toss nuts, coconut flakes, red pepper flakes, reserved 1 Tbsp lemongrass, remaining 1 Tbsp fish sauce, and remaining 2 tsp coconut oil in a skillet. Toast until coconut is deep golden brown.
-Remove soup from heat, remove lemongrass stalks (lick off any soup stuck to the stalk, then toss it), purée soup with immersion blender, adding as much coconut water as needed for desired consistency. I like it super thick, so I only add about a half of a cup.
-Serve with garnish, a squeeze of lime, and chopped cilantro.