so whenever i need to have dinner ready quickly, i tend towards this soup. serve it over rice noodles, serve it with rice, or just serve it plain – like we did the other night. thankfully, the family is okay with me throwing this together last minute, and it uses the sort of pantry staples i keep around at all times. warning: you might not consider fish sauce, lime juice, coconut milk, rice noodles or lemongrass staples. something to keep in mind.
so while the technique is not overly complicated, the use of pre-made red curry paste helps with making the flavor a little more complex than the short prep time allows. i start by sauteeing onions, garlic, lemongrass and fresh ginger in a little bit of vegetable oil, and then mix in some red curry paste. continue sauteeing until your kitchen smells really warm and toasty.
once everything is starting to get nice and translucent, add in your squash. there’s two ways to do the squash – you can pre-roast a whole squash for an hour, and then cut in half to scoop out seeds first, and then flesh. throw it in the pot with some chicken stock, and you’re nearly done.
the slightly longer method, aka: when you do not have people walking in and out of the kitchen asking when dinner will be ready, involves peeling, seeding and cubing your winter squash and simmering it in chicken stock until it’s soft. i tend to roast mine first – 350 for an hour while i’m folding laundry (or surfing the internet, let’s be honest) and when the skin is getting brown and shriveled, take it out and let it sit until cool enough to cut. throw it in with some vegetable or chicken stock, though yours should be a little less liquidy than the picture above. i wasn’t paying attention when adding the stock. doh!
at the end, blend your soup in a blender, or with an immersion blender. strain for any big pieces you missed, as well as straining out any tiny bits of the tough lemongrass stems. i usually use a metal round mesh strainer, though i sometimes have to use a spoon to work the soup through back into the pot. you’ll either need to strain into a new pot, or find a way to hold the unstrained soup to the side. honestly, you don’t have to do this, but there is such an improvement in texture, i find it worth the fiddliness.
add coconut milk until you’re happy with the consistency. some folks like their soup to stand up, and other folks like it to be thin. i’m in the camp of “hearty thick broth” when it comes to this soup, because i add tons of lime juice and fish sauce at the end. oh, and a whole bunch of cilantro. don’t wear white, because you will regret it. trust me on this one. also, there are no artsy pictures of this in bowls on a lovely bright table. i cook at night y’all, and we ate this before i could get enough pretty pictures.
Lazy Coconut Curried Squash Soup
2 and a half to 3 pound winter squash – red kuri is nice if you can get it, but butternut works in a pinch
2t neutral oil – no extra virgin olive oil.
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 stalks lemon grass, outer layers removed, crushed and cut into 1 inch pieces.
1 inch ginger, peeled and minced or grated
2T red curry paste, green if that’s what you have on hand.
1T garlic, minced
2C vegetable or chicken stock
1/4C + 2T fish sauce, divided
1 can coconut milk (13 oz size, approximately)
4T lime juice, divided
1/3C chopped cilantro leaves
lime wedges, softened rice noodles or rice to serve.
depending on method chosen for squash; either roast at 350 for an hour, and then split, seed and remove flesh; or peel seed and cube.
heat up oil over medium in a medium sized soup pot, i tend to use a 6 qt size most often. add onion, ginger, lemongrass and curry paste. saute until onions are beginning to look translucent, and then add garlic. saute for 1-2 min more, until garlic is fragrant.
add stock, squash and 1/4C fish sauce. bring to a boil and the reduce heat simmer until squash is tender, or 10 minutes. once again, this is dependent on the method chosen for your squash – 10 minutes is for pre-roasted.
once squash is tender, or 10 minutes have passed, remove lemongrass pieces. add soup to a blender, and process until smooth, or use an immersion blender to get smooth soup. this mixture should be pretty thick, as you are going to thin it in the next step.
strain through a mesh strainer back into soup pot, and add 1/2 can of coconut milk. stir, and evaluate consistency. if it’s still too thick, keep adding the rest of the coconut milk. stir in 2T lime juice, and taste for salt.
at this point, taste to see if you want additional fish sauce or lime juice. add as desired, and top with cilantro and serve over rice noodles. finely chopped peanuts, or basil leaves could work on top in addition to the cilantro, though if you’re adding basil, reduce the cilantro.
congratulate yourself on getting your 5 year old to eat butternut squash, and enjoy.