October 17, 2017

Thai Squash Soup

I'm so excited y'all. Yesterday I got to finally break out my boots and scarves and cute winter jackets because it finally felt a little chilly in the morning. Today I woke up and it was back to mid-60s and sunny so that little blip of fall was gone, but that's not stopping me from cooking all the squash and pumpkin and cranberries and cinnamon. While squash is such a versatile ingredient,  butternut squash makes some pretty awesome soups. My mom likes her classic version with just squash, some aromatics, and some chicken broth, but there's so many directions you can move forward with. I'm pretty sure butternut squash isn't a staple in Thai food, but it pairs surprisingly well with a lot of the flavors. Thai food is known for combining unexpected ingredients that ultimately balance each other perfectly, and this recipe is no exception.

I'll admit butternut squash is a pain to prepare. It's basically impossible to cut without stabbing yourself in the end, so it's often easier to just buy the plastic tubs of prepared cubed squash. I've found that if I can manage to slice the squash in half and remove the seeds, roasting it makes it tender and easy to peel and dice. It also brings out a natural sweetness and some lovely caramelized flavors.

Any good soup starts with some sauteed aromatics. Here, I use onion and garlic, which might not be the most authentic Thai base, but it tastes pretty good. I also add some ginger for that hint of spice and to start layering flavors. I deglaze the pan with some vegetable stock (or chicken stock if you prefer) and soy sauce for saltiness and complexity. Although the squash is pretty much cooked at this point, I throw it into the pot so it can absorb more liquid and become more easily blendable. I happen to have an immersion blender that makes this much easier, but a regular blender or even a food processor will work too. You can leave some chunks in there for texture but I prefer mine perfectly smooth.

It would be a pretty satisfying soup at this point, but there's so many more ways to add extra flavor. I add a can of coconut milk for creaminess, lime juice to cut the richness, peanut butter for a salty nuttiness, and chili sauce for heat. None of those ingredients should go with each other, let alone roasted squash, but thanks to the magic of Thai cooking it tastes pretty fantastic.

2 Butternut Squashes (4-5 lbs)
2 T Olive Oil
1 Onion, Diced
4 Cloves Garlic, Minced
1 1/2 tsp Grated Ginger
4 Cups Vegetable Stock
2 T Soy Sauce
1 14oz Can Coconut Milk
1 Lime
1/4 Cup Peanut Butter
Sriracha or Chili Sauce to Taste

Heat oven to 375F.

Halve the squash, remove the seeds, and rub the surface with olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer to a baking sheet, cover with foil, and roast for about an hour or until fork-tender. Peel and dice.

Heat some oil in a large pot. Add the onion and cook for 4 minutes. Add the garlic and ginger and cook for 2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Add the stock and soy sauce and bring to a simmer. Add the squash, cover, and cook for 20 minutes. Blend with an immersion blender until smooth.

Stir in the coconut milk, juice from the lime, peanut butter, chili sauce, and salt and pepper. Cook on low heat for 15 minutes.

Serves 8


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