Recipe: Spicy Butternut Squash and Ginger Soup
I “made this one up” years ago when I was all things Asian-inspired, and make several pots of it every year when the new season’s squashes come into the shops. It’s challenging sometimes to write things down as a bona fide recipe and this one is being written while actually preparing the soup, so here goes:
Ingredients (Serves 6 as a starter):
- 1 x Butternut Squash around 1kg, but you can use bigger or smaller ones, just adjust according to what is available
- 2 x medium-sized Carrots, chopped into large dice
- Large handful of finely chopped Shallots, you can also use an onion, but shallots work better with ginger and spices
- 2 inch or 5 cm piece of Root Ginger, grated finely and the stringy stuff discarded. Try to find ginger that is as fresh as possible, old ginger is too fibrous. Fresh Galangal would be ideal but I can’t find this where I live, not even in Waitrose…hint, hint, please, please stock this lovely Waitrose!
- 2 x cloves of Garlic, minced
- Either 2 x heaped teaspoons of a mild curry powder, or my suggested mix of dried, ground spices: Cumin, Coriander, Couple of Grates of Nutmeg, Fennel & Turmeric
- 2 1/2 pints, 1.5 litres of Vegetable Stock
- 100g block of Coconut, made up with 400ml boiling water (ie half of the block kind usually sold as 200g and cut lengthways so that the cream at the top and the coconut below are both included.)
- Seasoning to taste
- Fresh Coriander to garnish
Method (Takes about an hour from start to finish):
Cut the squash into quarters, remove the seeds and stringy, gloopy orange stuff with a spoon. Place in a roasting tray, drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and ground black pepper. Roast at 200 degrees for about 40 minutes. The reason for roasting the squash is twofold: it makes the flesh come off the skin easily and it creates a deeper, lovely flavour. Once done, allow to cool a little before scooping out the flesh with a spoon or be prepared for burnt fingers.
While the squash is roasting, in a heavy-based soup pot and over a low heat, gently fry the shallots, ginger and garlic together. Once the shallots are softened (5-10 minutes) add the spices and mix around. The spice mix does need to fry gently for a couple of minutes too because this releases all the lovely flavours. If you add the spice mix after the stock, the soup will forever have a “gritty” feel.
Once the aromas are wafting round your kitchen nicely, add the chopped carrots and vegetable stock, and simmer away with a lid on while the squash is roasting. No lid = no stock left. You can adjust the thickness of this soup according to how many you have to feed or if it has reduced too much by adding some hot water or further vegetable stock, but I could also suggest not thinning it down drastically until after the coconut milk is added. Take a view at that point.
Add the roast squash to the soup when its done and bring back to the boil and simmer. When the squash is breaking up, about 10 minutes, take off the heat and blend till smooth. I use a hand-blender in the pot, saves having to wait for it to cool, transfer to a liquidiser, etc. and cuts on the washing up. A small warning though, do rinse off your hand-blender straight away, don’t leave it sitting in a jug like I do or you will permanently stain it bright yellow, due to the incredible powers of turmeric.
The blending needs to be thorough to get the ginger properly broken up. I used the freshest I could find and there were still little hard firey bits of ginger in there after the first blend.
Finally, add the coconut milk and stir through or give it a whizz again. Re-heat, but at a simmer, do not boil or the coconut might go a bit weird and separated (this only happens sometimes but not every time I have by accident let it boil?? no idea why), and serve garnished with coriander. This soup can be frozen.
Oh, and a final comment on coconut, the reason I buy the block kind is because that’s all it has in it, just coconut. If you are picky about this kind of thing too, check the ingredients on a tin of coconut milk, it’s a shocker.