Soup was probably the reason I started cooking… and at first, it was just a Sunday thing. Weekday cooking didn’t stand a chance. After a hectic work day, I wanted nothing but to sit down at a restaurant and have someone bring me food. But on lazy Sunday afternoons, I started to enjoy the peaceful process of chopping and stirring (with a glass of red wine nearby)… and all the warm fuzzy feelings that come with making soup. To me, Sunday soup making became the calm before the storm… a necessary rejuvenating time before a new crazy week would begin.
Pumpkin (or butternut squash) soup can go a whole bunch of directions. I personally love it Thai-spiced. Red curry is one of my favorite things… mixed with creamy coconut. This time I experimented with lime leaves. I used them as I would bay leaves (taking them out before I blended the soup together). I found that they added a nice brightness, although I realize they’re not always easy to find. I’ve seen them lately at my specialty markets, but I wouldn’t necessarily go hunting for them… if you have to look too hard, just leave them out. It’ll still be great.
serves 6-8, freezes well
approx. 3.5 cups of pumpkin (or butternut squash), skin and seeds removed
2-3 tablespoons coconut oil
1 large onion, coarsely chopped
4 cloves of garlic (I add them whole, the blender will do the work later)
3 lime leaves (or a bit of lemongrass, or omit)
2 tablespoons red curry paste
1-2 teaspoons grated ginger
1 can coconut milk, light or full fat, either is fine
4 cups veggie broth
1/4 cup maple syrup
pinch of cayenne
(sometimes I toss in some sautéed kale or other greens)
Roast the pumpkin. (you can do this step in advance). I find pumpkins difficult to cut into so I start by softening mine in the oven. Place whole pumpkin in the oven for 15-20 minutes. Remove it from the oven and when it’s cool enough to touch slice it in to quarters. Drizzle the quarters with olive oil, salt and pepper, and continue roasting in the oven for 35-50 minutes until the flesh is really soft. (time will depend on the size of your pumpkin(s). Remove from the oven. Let cool and scoop out the seeds and guts. Scrape the pumpkin flesh from the skin and set aside until you’re ready for it to go into the soup.
In a large pot over medium heat, heat the coconut oil. Add the onion and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cook until soft and translucent and add garlic cloves lime leaves, curry paste and ginger. Cook until fragrant, about 2-3 more minutes.
Add the pumpkin and mix everything together. Let the pumpkin cook few more minutes, breaking apart the larger pieces with your wooden spoon or spatula. Before things start sticking to the bottom of your pot, add the coconut milk and the veggie broth. Add the maple syrup and a pinch of cayenne pepper. Cover and simmer for 20-25 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Remove lime leaves and pour the soup into a high speed blender (you may have to work in batches), and puree until smooth. Taste and adjust seasonings.
optional: Serve with extra coconut milk and a few more pinches of cayenne.