My mom’s birthday was this past Sunday, so, of course, I was compelled to make her a great dinner. I admit that sometimes I get a little carried away and make elaborate four-course meals that take hours to make, but this time, I decided to make simple comfort foods that my mom loves, albeit refined versions of them.
First up: a butternut squash soup with a Thai inflection.
I’ve made regular butternut squash soup before, but I wanted something a little more special this time around. Some common additions are ginger or curry powder, but I decided to take it a little further by going completely Thai, but in a really subtle way. By adding just a tiny amount of Thai curry paste, the soup has a faint hint of its flavor and the heat kicks in at the end of each spoonful, but the soup doesn’t taste strongly of a Thai curry. The palm sugar highlights the natural sweetness of the squash, the ginger adds another dimension of flavor but it’s not at all overpowering, and the coconut milk adds a bit of richness and rounds out the flavors. And the last minute addition of lime juice brightens up the whole thing.
My mom, who definitely has a discerning palate, loved it. I was actually surprised at just how good it turned out – it was really simple to make but turned out to have a complex yet delicate flavor – a great start to my mom’s birthday dinner.
Thai Curried Butternut Squash Soup
vegan and gluten-free
1 large butternut squash (about 2 ½ pounds)
2 large shallots
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger
1 teaspoon palm sugar or dark brown sugar
½ teaspoon Thai yellow or red curry paste
5 cups water
1 cup unsweetened coconut milk
½ teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice
Peel and seed the squash. Chop it into large pieces and pulse in a food processor until finely chopped.
Peel and chop the shallots (you should have about ½ cup).
Add the canola oil to a large pot set over medium heat. Add the chopped shallots and cook until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the ginger, sugar, and curry paste and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.
Add the squash and water. Cover the pot and bring the soup to a boil. Remove the lid and reduce the heat to a simmer. Simmer until the squash is very tender, about 5 minutes. Add the coconut milk and salt and simmer for another 10 minutes.
Puree the soup – either use a hand blender to blend the soup in the pot, or puree the soup in batches in a blender. Add more salt if necessary.
Right before serving, stir in the lime juice. Serve warm.