Saturday, March 1, 2014

Thai Red Curry Butternut Squash Soup

I love Thai food, and Joe loves butternut squash.  This soup makes for a perfect marriage of our food tastes.  I lived in Thailand for two years and developed a palate for all the wonderful spicy fresh food they have over there.  I often find myself craving different Thai dishes wishing I still lived there so I could walk down the street and order whatever my heart desired for less than a dollar.  Delicious!  If we get take out in our house, it's always Thai.  Ok, we've only ever gotten take out twice, but it's always been Thai.  
On to the yummy soup I made last night.  Disclaimer: this is not an actual authentic Thai dish, but they do use red curry, and they do use pumpkin, but I don't think I ever had butternut squash over there and certainly not as a soup.  So if you're going for truly authentic, this is not is.  But if you just love the Thai flavors, this is your dish!
This soup is adapted from how sweet it is which she adapted from Cooking Light.

Dinner time
Frozen squash and Thai Red Curry Sauce

Have you ever noticed how there is always more squash then you can use at one time from one squash?  Learn how to freeze it here.
The original recipe I used called for straight up red curry paste.  After driving to three different stores in Pasadena I could not find any.  Really Pasadena?  Anyways, I was determined to make this soup, so I purchased this Kikkoman Thai Red Curry Sauce which seems to work really well and is actually available at most grocery stores.  

Simmering squash soaking up the curry flavors

The toppings.  Fresh cilantro and chopped peanuts

Since this soup was made with frozen squash from a previous cooking adventure, I did not have any of the squash seeds.  If I had those, you would not be seeing peanuts in this picture.  Joe and I love roasted squash seeds on top of all squash recipes.  Pretty much every recipe that I use for squash calls for the seeds to be thrown.  WHY?  They are delicious, healthy and really really not that difficult to make edible.  
After you cut the squash in half, scrape out the seeds using a fork.  This will get out the seeds while leaving that stringy stuff in the squash.  Soak the seeds in salt water for a little bit.  Drain and spread on a baking sheet.  Place in the oven at 300˚ for about 20 minutes.  Honestly I use my nose and ears to determine when they are done.  You will smell them turning golden and hear them pop when they are done.  You can always taste one to determine it's doneness.  I don't think I've ever had a batch that baked in the same amount of time as a previous batch.  You just have to watch them.  

Thai Red Curry Butternut Squash Soup

3 tablespoons coconut oil
1 sweet onion, diced
4 cloves of garlic, minced
1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
1/4 cup red curry sauce
3 cups chicken or vegetable stock
4 cups uncooked butternut squash cubes
1 (14-ounce) can light coconut milk 
1 lime, juiced
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 cup fresh cilantro roughly chopped for topping
1/3 cup chopped roasted peanuts for topping
Roasted squash seeds

Heat a large pot over medium-low heat and add coconut oil.  Once it's melted, add the onions, garlic and salt.  Cook until the onions are soft and translucent stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes.  Add the ginger and curry sauce and stir until mixed.  Cook the curry and onions for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Pour in the stock and add the squash cubes, pepper, cinnamon and nutmeg.  Increase the heat to medium bringing to a boil, and cook until the squash is soft, about 20 minutes.

Once the squash is soft, turn off the heat.  You have a few options here depending on your tools.  I use an immersion blender right in the pot to blend the soup until it is soft and pureed.  If you don't have one, very carefully pour the contents of the pot into a regular blender and blend until smooth.  Pour back into the pot and turn the heat on to medium low.  Add the coconut milk and lime juice, and stir.  Cover and cook for 10 minutes until it's completely warm.  Taste and season additionally if desired.  Serve the soup with a garnish of cilantro and roasted seeds or chopped peanuts.

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