Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Red Curry Winter Squash Soup

Red curry paste is a great ingredient to keep around because it makes it easy to add a ton of flavor to a dish with very little effort. Creamy, mildly sweet squash goes extremely well with curry, as does coconut milk, and putting all three together was a wonderful way to use up (almost) the last of my CSA squash.

I added about 1 cup of broth and 4 teaspoons of red curry paste to make a very thick and mildly spicy and very filling dinner for my husband (who doesn't like things too spicy) and myself. If you only add around 1 cup of broth when pureeing the soup you'll have a very thick and creamy soup suitable for a main course for two to three people, but thinned further would make a nice first course soup for four to six people. This soup can also easily be made vegan by sauteeing the onions and garlic in olive oil instead of butter. My husband was a big fan of this soup and told me to make sure to write the recipe down, so this may be making another appearance on our dinner table soon.

Red Curry Winter Squash Soup
serves 2 to 3 (as a main course) to 6 (as a first course)

Canola oil cooking spray
2 medium winter squash, such as acorn or festival squash
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 medium onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, finely minced or pressed through a garlic press
One 13.5-ounce can light coconut milk
1 teaspoons red curry paste (or more), to taste
1 cup (or more) low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth or water (enough to achieve desired consistency)
Freshly ground black pepper
Kosher salt
Cilantro, for garnish (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F and spray a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil with canola oil cooking spray. Cut squash in half, scoop out seeds, and season with salt and pepper. Place cut side down on baking sheet and roast until squash is very tender, 30 minutes to 1 hour depending on the size and type of squash, and remove from oven. Once squash is cool enough to handle, scoop out flesh and set aside.

2. While squash is cooling, melt butter over medium heat. Add onion and cook until softened, 5 to 7  minutes. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds to 1 minute. Add squash flesh, light coconut milk, 1 teaspoon red curry paste, and 1 cup stock and stir to combine. Remove from heat. Using an immersion blender, blend the mixture until smooth. Add broth and blend further to achieve desired consistency-if you stop at this point, you will have a very thick soup suitable for a main course for 2 to 3 people, but soup can be thinned further for a lighter first course soup. Once desired consistency is achieved, add red curry paste, one teaspoon at a time, to taste. Season with salt and pepper and simmer soup for at least 10 minutes to allow the flavors to marry. Serve warm and garnish with cilantro, if desired.

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