This soup was the most exciting thing to happen to me all day. I cannot tell you what happened before I lifted the spoon to my mouth, blew on the steam rising from the creamy orange purée, and felt the warm pocket of flavor melt on my tongue. Nothing really mattered before that bite. Sometimes my days are so uninteresting I literally have nothing to report at the dinner table. Luckily, there’s always dinner at the dinner table. No matter how boring our days are, there’s always that final meal to look forward to, and that’s when things get interesting.
With aromas of lemongrass and spice, flavors of curry and coconut, and texture like velvet, you can’t have a bad day if it includes this soup. Making it won’t put you in a bad mood, either, if you buy those big tubs of pre-cubed butternut squash from Costco. That cuts out the hardest step. If you’re making this with whole butternut squash, it’s nice to have a helper peel and dice the vegetable while you prep the other ingredients. It also gives you someone to talk to, even if you have nothing to recount from the day. You can gush about the scent of the lemongrass stalk, get a second opinion about how much green curry paste to use, share in the joy of a freshly peeled knob of ginger (have I mentioned the ginger yet!?). Suddenly there was something to talk about.
I tossed the chopped aromatics into my Dutch oven over low heat and they sizzled softly, chiming into the conversation. Once they cooked down a bit, I added the squash, some Thai green curry paste and all the liquids and let the flavors talk amongst themselves for a while as Mom and I cleaned and set the table.
I planned to make this soup for Mom and me and reheat leftover pasta for Dad. Once the soup was done and Dad’s pasta was ready, he came into the kitchen and peered curiously at the vibrant purée. Want to try it? Mom asked. He took a spoonful, shrugged, nodded, then grabbed a bowl. Now I really had something to say.
Butternut Squash and Green Curry Soup
Adapted from NYT Cooking recipe by Samin Nosrat
What you need:
- 2 medium shallots, sliced
- 1 inch of fresh ginger, peeled and sliced
- 1 lemongrass stalk, cut into 3-inch pieces, save a bit for garnish (I was able to find this at my local grocery store in the produce section, near the other pre-packaged herbs)
- 1 medium butternut squash, peeled and cubed
- 1 can light coconut milk
- 2-3 TB Thai green curry paste
- 1 TB fish sauce
- 1 cup chicken stock
- 1/2-1 cup coconut water, as needed
- 1 cup chopped cashews
- 1 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
- shake of red pepper flakes
- minced lemongrass
- lime wedges (for serving)
- cilantro (for serving)
What you do:
-Melt coconut or neutral oil in Dutch oven over medium, add shallots, ginger, lemongrass, and 1 tsp salt. Reduce heat to low, cook until shallots caramelize a bit, 10-15 minutes.
-Add squash, coconut milk, 2 TB curry paste, fish sauce, 1 cup water or stock (if using water, add 1 tsp salt). Increase heat to high, bring to boil, reduce to simmer, cover and cook 25 minutes, stirring occasionally, until squash has almost completely broken down. Taste, if not spicy enough add more green curry paste.
-Make garnish: toss nuts, coconut flakes, red pepper flakes, lemongrass, 1 TB fish sauce, and 1/2 TB oil in a skillet. Toast until coconut is deep golden brown.
-Remove soup from heat, remove lemongrass stalks (lick off any soup stuck to the stalk, then toss it), purée soup with immersion blender, adding as much coconut water as needed for desired consistency. I like it super thick, so I only add about a half of a cup.
-Serve with garnish, a squeeze of lime, and chopped cilantro.