Thai Inspired Kabocha Squash Soup
October 3, 2012 § 8 Comments
It has been in the mid-eighties in the Bay Area for the past three days. Eighties in October! In sync with this crazy weather, I’ve been particularly inspired to cook and bake. I’ve been trying new recipes, re-working old recipes, and overall spending way too much time in the kitchen considering how hot it is! I’m hoping that with this squash soup I will be ready to take a (brief) rest from my stove-top hovering, at least until the weather cools down slightly.
I began perusing winter squash soup recipes about a week ago, when it was actually feeling like fall. And once I had settled on an idea, I just couldn’t wait for the temperatures to cool down.
I’ve also been impatient to use the beautiful kabocha squash that I harvested from my garden a few weeks ago. In the spirit of full disclosure, I should mention that I didn’t actually plant this squash. I added some fresh compost to my garden back in the spring, and a tiny squash plant sprang up a few weeks later. I can take a little credit after that, because I decided not to weed it out, transplanted it, and faithfully watered it for the next several months! But I still feel like it was a little garden surprise.
Given the ingredients, you’ll probably have to make a stop at an Asian grocery store. It can be hard to find lemon grass, Thai chilies, kaffir lime leaves or thai basil at a traditional grocery store (though I did find my beautiful basil at the farmers’ market). But the trip will be worth it! I swear!
So here goes. I hope wherever you are, you can pair this soup with the perfect fall day. But if not, I think you will still be happy with the results. And if you find yourself in unseasonably warm weather, consider trying it chilled! I was pleasantly surprised.
Thai Inspired Kabocha Squash Soup (adapted slightly from Everyday Greens)
- 1 medium kabocha squash, approximately 4 pounds
- 6 cups vegetable broth
- 1 tablespoon olive oil, plus more for baking squash
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic
- 1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger
- 1 large yellow onion, chopped (approximately 2 cups)
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 stalks lemongrass, outer leaves removed, top several inches of tougher green stalk discarded, and bottom portion cut into 1/2 inch pieces
- 3 kaffir lime leaves
- 3 dried Thai chilies, cut into thirds
- One 14-ouce can unsweetened coconut milk, regular or low fat
- 15-20 Thai basil leaves, sliced into thin ribbons
- 2 tablespoons lime juice
Preheat the oven to 400ºF. While the oven heats, cut the kabocha squash in half and remove the seeds. Place both halves face down in a lightly oiled baking dish. Spoon 2 tablespoons of water into the baking dish, cover with lid or aluminum foil, and roast for 35 minutes, or until the squash is tender. Allow the squash to cool so that you can handle i comfortably, and then scoop the flesh from the skin. For a 4 pound squash, you should have approximately 6 cups.
Heat oil in soup pot over medium-low heat, and add the onions. Saute for approximately 3 minutes, until slightly softened, and then add garlic, ginger and salt. Cook for another 3 minutes. Add the squash and vegetable broth. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, for 15 minutes.
Remove pot from heat. Use a blender to puree the squash mixture until smooth. Given the quantity, you will likely have to blend in two batches. Blend the first half, transfer to a bowl, and then puree the second half. Return to the soup pot over medium-low heat. Add the kaffir lime leaves, Thai chilies, lemon grass and coconut milk. Cook for 25-30 minutes. Remove from heat, and pass soup through a colander to remove the lemon grass, kaffir lime leaves and Thai chilies (a fine mesh strainer will be too fine for this soup to pass through easily). Add two tablespoons lime juice, and season with salt and pepper. Garnish with Thai basil ribbons. Enjoy immediately.
If you want to serve the soup chilled, let it cool uncovered. Once the soup is close to room temperature, place in refrigerator to chill completely. Garnish with basil ribbons, and also consider serving with a dollop of plain yogurt.