Creamy Coconut Squash Soup

Have veggies that are going a bit soft? Got half an hour? Want a meal that packs a ton of nutrition and flavor into every creamy (or chunky, or brothy…) mouthful? Do you like to make that slurpy noise every time you take a bite?  It Ain’t. Even. A Question.

You know that phrase, “easy as pie?” Anyone who has ever tried to make piecrust from scratch knows that phrase is a bunch of malarkey. I’d like to submit a revision: easy as soup.

You can literally make soup out of anything. The basic method is this: get some oil, dump it in a big pot and throw some onions in (celery and carrots too, if you want). Let them soften for a bit. Then add your raw hard veggies (potatoes, squash, turnips, cauliflower…) and salt, pepper, and whatever other flavorings you want (curry, garlic, herbs, ginger…). Next add your liquid (water, canned tomatoes, coconut milk, any stock or broth, wine…). Cook until the veggies are soft. Throw in some leafy stuff at the end if you want (spinach, chard, bok choy, kale…). Puree, or don’t. Add more salt, a squeeze of lemon, a drizzle of olive oil. Boom. Soup.

This version is thick, hearty, and flavorful. It also makes use of lots of stuff I just had hanging around the pantry, which is ANOTHER nice thing about soup: the most basic ingredients can still turn into something really special. If you like your soup chunky, skip the last step and just ladle it into bowls. I love the texture of a creamy soup, though. It always feels so indulgent…and there is nothing quite like the knowledge that you have fooled your tastebuds into thinking they are being bad when your body knows you just ate something good.

Creamy Coconut Squash Soup
Serves 4
Note: Don’t skip the squeeze of lemon at the end; it really adds a lot!

Ingredients:

1 small-medium yellow onion, roughly diced
1 small butternut squash (about 1 lb), peeled and chopped into 1 inch chunks
2 carrots (or about 10 baby carrots), roughly diced
1 can of chickpeas, mostly drained
2 cloves garlic, minced
¼-½ tsp fresh red chili pepper
1 tablespoon red curry paste, dissolved in a little water
Salt/Pepper
1 can coconut milk
1 qt. vegetable  broth
Lemon wedges (for garnish)
Chopped cilantro

Equipment:

Nice sharp knife and cutting board
Big stockpot
Wooden spoon
Immersion blender (one of those handy kitchen tools you never think you’ll use—until you own one)
If you don’t have one, you’ll need the following:
Standing blender
Slotted spoon
Large bowl

Method:
  1. Cook the onion in a couple tablespoons of coconut oil over medium heat for five minutes until the onion softens. Add the squash and carrots and cook, stirring every minute, until the edges of the squash start to brown a bit. Make a well in the center of your pot—that is, push everything to the edges so the center of your pot is empty. Add the garlic, chili pepper, curry, salt, and pepper with just a splash of coconut oil and let these spices simmer in the center until they are nice and fragrant, about 2 minutes. Stir to combine everything and let it all cook for a minute more. Add the coconut milk and veggie broth and give it one more stir.
  2. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium-low or low, just enough heat to keep a low simmer for 25-30 minutes until the squash pretty much falls apart. If your chickpeas still feel a bit chalky that’s ok.
  3. Turn off the heat and either use an immersion blender (you foodie you) or scoop ½ of the solids into a blender using a slotted spoon. Ladle or dump in a bit (a ½ cup, say) of liquid to help hold it together, and blend away. Scrape the contents into your large bowl. Do the same with the rest of the solids. You’ll have some broth left in your pot. Dump what you’ve blended back into the pot and stir it all together. Salt to taste and serve in individual bowls with a sprinkling of chopped cilantro and a squeeze of lemon.

{photos by carolcatherine, featuring napkins by TOURIST PARK}

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