butternut squash soup – with curry!

3 Jan

butternut squashYes, that’s right – my obsession with curry continues.

In this part of the country, local butternut squash is readily available most of the winter. I bought a couple at the farmer’s market a month ago, and they have been merely decorating my kitchen counter since then. But when I ran across a recipe in one of my curry cookbooks (yes, I have several) for curried pumpkin, I thought, why not curried butternut squash? I’ve always loved butternut squash soup, so I figured it would be even better with curry. Turns out I was right!

I feel it might benefit the reader at this point to further explain the advent and evolution of curry. The generic term “curry” refers to a wide variety of fragrant dishes from all over the world. (There are actual curry leaves, which may or may not be present as an ingredient in a “curry” recipe.) Using this word to refer to such a wide variety of dishes is a product of the British Empire, which spread the cuisine across its diverse breadth through war, imperialism, exploration and trade. The British adapted the Tamil (southern India) word “kari” into the English word “curry”, and it has been used as a catch-all for these flavorful dishes ever since.

In Pakistan, curries are apt to be called “salan”. In Thailand, “geng”. In Malaysia, “gulai”. While curries from SE Asia boast rich, creamy, coconut flavors and zesty spice blends, curry dishes from Pakistan are more minimalist in nature, featuring basic ingredients and robust, earthy flavors. Although there is a similar spice structure to most curries, the variations are too numerous to list.

So, in short, just because you’ve had a chicken curry at your local Indian buffet, does not mean you have experienced any notable percentage of the curry world. Hence, my ongoing obsession with exploring this delightful culinary cornucopia.

This recipe uses a mild Indian curry blend with cinnamon – a comforting aroma on any winter evening. You can use a different curry blend if you want, but I recommend using a blend from India, Pakistan, or Sri Lanka.

In addition to getting the health benefits of curry I previously discussed, this dish uses coconut milk instead of fatty cholesterol-laden cream. Coconut milk is rich in saturated nut fats (the good kind!) and lauric acid. Additionally, butternut squash (the bulk of this recipe) provides high levels of: Vitamin E, Thiamin, Niacin, Vitamin B6, Folate, Calcium, Magnesium, Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Potassium and Manganese. It even has anti-inflammatory value. Yum!

Coconut Curry Butternut Squash Soup

Ingredients:

onions tomatoes garlic curry

  • 2 medium butternut squashes
  • 1-1/2 large onions, chopped
  • 2 ripe tomatoes, chopped
  • 2  cloves garlic, minced
  • 2-3 cups vegetable (or chicken) stock
  • 1 can coconut milk (or light coconut milk)
  • 3 tsp fresh lemon juice
  • 3-4 tbs vegetable oil

Curry blend:curry spice blend

  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp red chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp coriander
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 whole cardamom pods

Preparation:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cut the squashes in half lengthwise and remove the seeds and pulp. Cover the bottom of a roasting pan or cookie sheet with a thin layer of vegetable oil, and place the squash halves cut side down on the oiled tray. Roast in the oven for about 30 minutes, or until the flesh feels soft, and the skins have peeled a bit. Once cool enough to handle, remove the flesh and set aside in a bowl.

Over medium-low heat, use a stock pot to sautee the onions with a tablespoon or two of vegetable oil. Cook until mostly translucent, stirring occasionally. Add the curry spice blend,  chopped tomato and minced garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, for another 5 minutes.butternut squash soup curry

Now add the roasted squash, coconut milk and stock. Stir to combine thoroughly and bring just to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook, covered, for about 20 minutes. Remove bay leaf. Transfer the soup to a blender, and puree until the mixture has a smooth and creamy appearance and texture. Taste for seasoning, and add more if needed. You can also add more stock or coconut milk if you prefer a thinner soup. Once the soup is the right flavor and consistency for your preferences, stir in the lemon juice and enjoy!

Cooking time: 1 hour
Serves 4-6

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4 Responses to “butternut squash soup – with curry!”

  1. Robyn January 3, 2011 at 3:52 pm #

    Am trying your receipe right now! A question…do you grind up the cardamon pods with the spices? I did and also ground up the bay leaf with it as I wasn’t sure how it was suppose to be used in this soup. Looks good though! Can’t wait to taste it!

    • ThisAmericanDiet January 3, 2011 at 3:57 pm #

      Enjoy! I ground up the cardamom pods when I pureed the soup. I removed the bay leaf first. 😉

  2. Shelly January 7, 2011 at 12:54 pm #

    I’d like to try this – one question about the coconut milk – Can you use the juice from a young coconut? I’ve never really understood the different in the canned vs. the fresh coconut milk.

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