Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Butternut Squash Soup with Coconut Milk

You know Autumn is around the corner when winter squash start showing up at area markets — the perfect time for making delicious fall soups. Butternut squash is one of the most popular forms of winter squash, with a sweet, nutty taste similar to that of a pumpkin. I was shocked to learn that butternut squash, like all gourds, are actually fruit, because they contains seeds. Who knew? Low in fat, Butternut squash also delivers an healthy dose of dietary fiber, making it an exceptional heart-friendly culinary choice.

Butternut squash are also amazingly versatile — roasted with butter, mashed into soups, baked into casseroles and breads, or my favourite, 
puréed into soups. This Asian-inspired recipe for Butternut Squash Soup with Coconut Milk makes a luscious, slightly sweet, creamy soup, and using coconut milk and fresh squeezed orange juice, rather than heavy cream, gives it a lovely silky texture and lots of extra flavour. The lively background notes come from a touch of Thai red curry paste and a soupçon of fresh ginger, which give an exotic depth to this easy, delicious and healthy puréed soup. 

Butternut Squash Soup with Coconut Milk
Serves 8-10

1 large butternut squash, about 2 pounds
1 tbsp oil
1⁄4 cup onion, minced
1 tbsp freshly grated ginger
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1-2 tsp Thai Red Curry paste
6 kaffir lime leaves, whole
4 cups chicken broth
1 13 oz. can unsweetened coconut milk
1 orange, juice and zest

Peel, core and chop butternut squash into 1-inch cubes and steam until very tender. In an heavy bottomed pot, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onion, ginger and garlic and sauté until softened, about 3 minutes. Add the curry paste and cook for a few more minutes. Stir in the chicken broth, coconut milk, squash and whole lime leaves. Simmer for 15 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in the orange juice and zest. Remove the lime leaves and purée the soup with a hand mixer or in a blender. Serve hot or chilled. Garnish with a dollop of coconut cream or sour cream, and a sprig of Thai basil.