Monday, October 5, 2009

Thai Curry Squash Soup

My idea behind this soup was to take all the traditional flavors you'd find in a Thai (red) curry, and blend them into a puree with some of the beautiful winter squash that is starting to be available from our local farms.  It is hard to write an exact recipe for this soup, as the adjustment of the flavors is totally a matter of taste.  I was lucky enough to be able to travel to Thailand in 2001, and one of the things I loved about the food there was that every dining table had little jars of sugar, chili pepper, vinegar and fish sauce on it - representing the sweet, hot, sour and salty flavors that are the cornerstone of all Southeast Asian dishes - and you'd tweak your own dish to your exact liking in every flavor category.  As both a spice fiend and a control freak, I was totally taken with this brilliant seasoning system.

  The view from our dinner table on Railay Beach, Thailand in 2001 - I never wanted to leave!
So, look at this basic recipe as a jumping off point, and season it to your own taste.  You could also use any winter squash you'd like -- all butternut would be particularly yummy -- we just grabbed ones that appealed to our eyes at the co-op.

~2.5 lbs of winter squash 
2 small bunches green onions
1 14 oz. can light coconut milk 
4 cups chicken or vegetable broth
Vegetable oil
Red Thai Curry paste (I like Thai Kitchen brand)
Brown sugar
Nuoc Mam (Fish Sauce)
Rice Vinegar
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Salt to taste

Start by roasting the squash.  Pre-heat your oven to 400 degrees F, and halve and seed the squash while it pre-heats.  Place the squash on a baking sheet and rub the halves with a bit of vegetable oil.

The squash will take about an hour to roast.  You want it to be soft enough that you can basically scoop the meat from the skin effortlessly.  Ovens vary, so test the squash with a knife periodically.  It will be done when the knife slides right into the squash easily.  Once you pull the squash, allow them to cool, and the remove the meat of the squash from the skin and roughly chop it. 

While the squash cools, chop the green onions - remove the hairy ends, and finely chop the white and about half of the green part of the onion.  Heat about a tablespoon of the oil in a deep soup pot, and add the onions, and saute them over medium heat until the whites become translucent and the greens wilt.  Add the squash to the green onion in the pot and stir to combine.

Add the coconut milk and broth and stir.  Start adding the curry flavor as well.  The curry paste packs a lot of heat so start slowly with 2 teaspoons.  Start with a tablespoon of everything else and adjust to taste.
After this first addition, you want to blend the soup.  I use an immersion blender for this, and it is one of my favorite tools in our kitchen.  If you like to make soups and purees, this is ~$100 well spent.  Alternatively, you could transfer the mix in batches to a food processor or blender, and puree it smooth before returning it to the pot.  I just love the immersion blender because it saves you this step. After this first blend, adjust the seasoning to taste. I wound up with probably a tablespoon and a half of curry, 2 tablespoons of sugar, 3 tablespoons of vinegar, and 2 tablespoons of fish sauce in my recipe, but again, a good curry is about your own tolerance for heat and taste for the hot-sour-salty-sweet flavors, so get out a tasting spoon and make this recipe your own!

No matter how you tweak the ingredients, the finished product is incredibly flavorful, and a nice departure from the usual fall squash soups, which are delicious, but could use some jazzing up, no?


One little business note: I've added a labels tool to the site, and am labeling all the recipes as such, so that if you are looking for a recipe that was previously published, you can find it more easily.  Just click on the recipes link in the labels section (underneath the blog list section), and all the other posts are filtered out.  Hope this is helpful to all of you home cooks!


  1. mmm... this might be a perfect use for some of the delicatas from the garden!

  2. Super yum Jane. Fall is my season for blended soups, so I will definitely have to add some curry kick to my squash soups! Thanks for the idea!

  3. I think I'm grabbing some squash from the farmer's market this SAturday! :-)

  4. Ooh! I've never tried roasting the squash first. Must try it next time!