Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Butternut Squash, Coconut and Red Curry Soup {Gluten-Free + Vegetarian + Vegan + Low-Carb}

Butternut Squash, Coconut, Red Curry Soup {Gluten-Free + Vegetarian + Vegan + Low-Carb}

Fall is just right around the corner.  The weather is cooling down, the trees (in some parts of the US, anyway) are starting to just hint at turning color, the Halloween decorations and costumes are becoming a staple of a(ny) store near you, and a variety of squash are coming into their full seasonal glory.  Including, of course, the Butternut Squash.

Butternut  Squash, Coconut and Red Curry Soup
There are few things more comforting to me than the warmth of soup combined with favorite fall foods like Butternut Squash.  So, when I found a recipe for Butternut Squash and Red Curry soup I got extra excited because it combined two favorite Fall food stuffs with a third food stuff that I could probably eat massive proportions of any time of the year--no matter how hot or cold--for any (or every!) meal: Thai Curry.

Thai Curry was something I discovered a little later in life through family vacations to, usually larger, cities with more adventurous and exotic food choices than the meat-and-potatoes Mid-Western fare I grew up with (not an especially satisfying diet for a vegetarian).  I remember eating Thai for the first time in Washington DC, probably a pretty awesome place to take one's first dive into the cuisine, and I've made Thai an enduring part of my (lately abandoned) traveling career ever since.  

I've tried Thai restaurants out in everywhere from Kennebunkport, Maine, to Santa Barbara, California, to Salem, Massachusetts, to Houston, Texas.  The point, in case it hasn't hit home, is that I really, really like Thai.  But, most especially I like a good spicy red or green curry and I even made a Red Curry with Tofu and Pumpkin when pumpkins are in season.  

Butternut Squash
This Butternut Squash, Coconut, Red Curry Soup delivers everything I love about Thai Curry--the mix of spices and actual spiciness from chili peppers as well as the decadent and creamy texture of the coconut milk-base.  But, notably, what the soup is missing compared with a Curry dish you'd get at a restaurant is the rice--the carbs!  

I promise you won't miss the rice / carbs.  I tried the soup out on a few friends at a small dinner party over the weekend and nobody even mentioned rice.  The sweet, buttery flavor of the Butternut Squash along with the coconut milk, red curry paste, and chili peppers was a bit hit just as it was, although I could probably see myself adding small chunks of grilled tofu to it in the future just for a little texture.

[Recipe]  Butternut Squash, Coconut, Red Curry Soup

Thai Kitchen Brand
Red Curry Paste

Ingredients

  • 1 Butternut Squash (cut in half, seeds removed, roasted in pan of shallow water on 350 degrees F. until cooked through)
  • 3 Cans Coconut Milk (I used 2 Lite, 1 Regular to cut down on fat/calories)
  • 2 Red Bell Peppers; roasted and peeled
  • 1 Medium Onion; chopped
  • 6 Cloves Garlic; minced (add more to taste)
  • 2 Serrano Chili Peppers (or Thai Peppers); adjust based on your personal tolerance for spiciness
  • 1 4Oz (approx) Jar Red Curry Paste (like Thai Kitchen brand)
  • 1 Tablespoon Ginger, freshly grated
  • Olive Oil
  • 1/3 Cup Cilantro; chopped (add as much or little as you prefer)

Directions

  1. Prepare Butternut Squash by cutting in half, removing seeds, and baking in a pan with a shallow layer of water in it (cut side of squash facing down) at 350 degrees F. until Squash is tender; about 35-40minutes.  At same time, place 2 Red Bell Peppers in separate baking dish, covered with light layer of olive oil, and cook on top rack until skins are brownish and loose.  Remove Red Peppers from oven when skins look dark and loose and let cool before skinning.
  2. Add chopped onion and garlic to a large sauce pan with olive oil.  Cook until onions are turning translucent.  Add Red Curry Paste, Ginger, Serrano Peppers (de-stemmed) and Coconut Milk.  Stir.  Add Butternut Squash (cubed) and peeled, roasted Red Peppers.  Simmer for 10-15 minutes.
  3. Remove soup from heat and add chopped cilantro.
  4. Transfer soup in batches into a blender and liquify.  Serve soup hot with Leeks (pictured), scallions, cilantro, or other garnish.
  5. Enjoy!


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