Assuming you have a sizable and sharp knife (an 8″ chef’s knife is ideal), winter squash is a great wintertime ingredient: it’s plentiful, versatile, and inexpensive. You can roast it and eat straight out of the skin, or you can simmer cut-up chunks of it in water or broth and then drain it and mash it like a potato. (Or simmer it into soup as I’ve done here.) You can even slice squash into thin slices and roast the slices into crispy chips! Try sprinkling them with chili powder of a blend of Parmesan and cayenne to make them even tastier. If you go the chip route, though, it becomes all the more imperative to have that sizable and sharp knife handy.
Incorporating squash into soup is one of my favorite ways to use butternut or acorn squash. I have two big reasons for saying that: once you’ve trimmed away the hard skin, you can cut the flesh into chunks without having to worry about how pretty they look — which is much simpler than trying to be neat about it — and simmered and blended squash lends any soup a velvety and luxurious texture. The coconut milk I added to this batch was an extra bonus.
Curried Squash & Coconut Soup
1 medium onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped
3-4 cups vegetable or chicken broth (if you want a thick stew, use 3 cups; for more of a soup, use 4)
1 butternut squash (or other winter squash), skin and seeds removed, flesh chopped into rough cubes
1 tsp. coriander
1 tsp. cumin
1/2 tsp. ginger
Dash of crushed red pepper
Splash of coconut milk
Sprinkling of parsley for garnish (optional)
In a large soup pot over medium heat, sautée onions in a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil for about 5 minutes or until onions are translucent. Stir in garlic and cook for another 2 minutes. Add broth and bring soup to a simmer, then stir in cubed squash and spices and let simmer gently for about 15 to 20 minutes or until you can easily pierce the squash with the tip of a sharp knife.
If you’d like a chunky soup, you can leave the soup as it is, either stirring the coconut milk into the pot or pouring the milk into individual servings as an accent the way I did mine. If you prefer a smooth soup — which I did — either use a hand-held blender to turn the chunks of squash into velvety smoothness, or run the soup through a food processor. (The hand blender is obviously the easier option.) Again, you can either add the coconut milk to the soup as you’re blending it, or you can pour a splash of the milk into individual servings. From an artistic standpoint, I prefer pouring in a last-minute splash.
Although this soup is wonderful hot, I think it’s good cold, too. It will keep in the refrigerator for up to five days.