This soup is subtle. And interesting. So much so that I find myself taking another spoonful just to discover another flavor.
Overall, this soup is just pureed butternut squash. But then I added traditional Thai spices (like lemongrass, ginger, curry, and coconut) and suddenly it became one of the most interesting soups I've ever tasted. Surprisingly, the day after, the soup had a much stronger lemongrass flavor. It was awesome! Another surprising aspect of this soup was how filling it is. I didn't expect that from a cream soup.
I roasted my butternut squash before adding it to the soup, but I recommend just braising it instead. Roasting added a lot of time and effort without the rewards on flavor for this particular soup. Butternut squash has a soft enough outside that peeling it with a vegetable peeler is my preferred method. The directions described in the recipe reflect the better braising method.
The red curry paste adds a nice depth to the soup. The soup is not spicy. Not even for a Minnesotan. But it is warming and oh so interesting. I take a spoonful, and I just sit and ponder it. Like a good glass of wine.
While on a recent trip to New York City, I discovered flavored sea salts. I could have spent all day tasting flavored sea salts! After burning my mouth on the "hottest pepper in the world" sea salt, I decided to bring home Thai Ginger sea salt, which I ended up using in this recipe. It has a strong ginger flavor that goes nicely with the strong salt. In the event you don't have Thai Ginger sea salt in your cupboard, you can add 1 tablespoon minced ginger to the onion and red curry paste mixture and add salt to taste when you are simmering the soup.
Thai-Inspired Butternut Squash Soup
2 small butternut squash (maybe 1 lb? When it was mashed, it filled about 4 cups)
1 medium yellow onion, coarsely diced
3/4 teaspoon red curry paste
3 teaspoons Thai Ginger sea salt (see above for substitution suggestions)
2 cups lemongrass tea (5-7 stalks crushed, coarsely chopped, and steeped in boiling water for at least 5 minutes)
7 ounces coconut milk
1 tablespoon oil
- Heat the oil in a large sauce pan over medium-high heat. Add the onion and stir until coated with oil. Turn down the heat to medium and let cook for about 3 minutes, or until the onion begins to soften. Stir in the curry paste and the Thai Ginger sea salt. Let cook for 2 more minutes.
- Peel and de-seed the squash. Cut into 1 inch cubes and add to the sauce pan, cooking for 3 minutes. Pour in about 1 cup of the lemongrass tea, cover and let cook until soft. Remove the cover, and let the cook for about 5 minutes. There should still be a little bit of liquid in the pan to prevent burning.
- Add the remaining tea and puree the soup using a hand blender (or a food processor).
- Return the soup to the stove and add the coconut milk (add water if you want a thinner soup). Cook for about 7 minutes to allow the flavors the blend (longer if you have the time). Taste, and adjust seasonings. Serve and ponder it's complex flavors.