Butternut Squash & Coconut Milk Soup

I love soup. Did I mention I love soup? Predictably, my household caught the sniffles after all that holiday activity and travel, and my mind was filled with thoughts of healing soup. It’s a great way to take a lot of fluids and help you get better. There was this one day where I made two vats of soup for the week, went out to eat for another soup, and made a quick mug of noodle soup before bed. Just soup-er.
This one is creamy despite not having dairy, “thank goodness,” said the lactard. I also did away with the shrimp to eliminate my risk of anaphylactic shock, and took a shot frying tofu on the side. *I had to go to two different stores to get a red curry paste without shrimp paste in it (thank you vegan options), so if you’re going vegetarian check the ingredients listing before buying that. Entertainingly, the original recipe I riffed off is from Whole Foods Market via an Instacart link, see Butternut Squash and Coconut Soup with Shrimp. If you choose tofu as your side protein, read up in step 1 beforehand and adjust your task times accordingly.

The completed dish: butternut squash & coconut soup with fried tofu.
Butternut squash & coconut soup with fried tofu.

Serve 4 to 6
2 teaspoons expeller-pressed canola oil
1 small yellow onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh ginger
1 teaspoon red curry paste, more to taste*
a dash of red pepper flakes (optional)
2 teaspoons light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 medium butternut squash, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces, about 4 cups
2 cups low-sodium gluten-free chicken broth (or vegetable broth, for vegan option)
1 (14-ounce) can coconut milk (I used a light version)
Optional for protein and garnish:
1 box extra firm tofu, pressed dry, or other protein (cubed chicken, 1 can chickpeas, etc.)
1/4 cup chopped fresh scallions
1/4 cup shredded coconut, toasted (very optional)
Lime wedges

1. Optional: Prep tofu to fry, per Serious Eats’ reference on tofu-frying here, which includes how to dry out said tofu first.
2. Heat oil in a large soup pot over medium-high heat. Add onion, garlic and ginger. Cook, stirring frequently, until fragrant and onion is translucent, about 5 minutes. Throw in a dash of red pepper flakes per preference.
3. Stir in curry paste, sugar and salt and cook 1 minute longer.
4. Stir in squash, broth and coconut milk and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until squash is tender, 20 to 25 minutes.
5. Optional: While the soup is simmering, do the rest of the tofu-frying, per link above (or chicken, or nothing, or just throw in chickpeas).
6. Stir in scallions, sprinkle with coconut and serve with protein and lime wedges on the side.

Steps 2-3.
Steps 2-3.
Step 4.
Step 4.
Simmering soup, almost done!
Simmering soup, almost done!
Step 5. Frying tofu, patience!
Step 5. Frying tofu, patience!

Novelty Rating: 3 of 5
Soup is soup is soup is soup. The novelty here lies in how creamy it is without giving me a stomachache from the dairy factor.
Likelihood of Repeat: 40% I may skip the tofu rigamarole next time. This combination has an irritatingly long list of ingredients, plus the chore of chopping down a butternut. I think most days I’d rather roast it instead.
Lesson Learned: That dash of lime juice at the end really gives the soup a nice tang. Not sure I could taste the coconut flakes at all, so it may not be worth buying a giant bag of coconut flakes if you don’t have them lying around like I do. I skipped the red pepper flakes this time since I had a friend coming over whose small children might partake, but otherwise I’d definitely recommend a few flakes to give it a good kick. I also cut and prepped the cubes of butternut squash the day before, to help my mental state so I didn’t remember the seemingly endless chopping so clearly. If I were to do it again, I’d chop them in smaller pieces. I also had the urge to blend the whole soup, in which case I’d take a few pieces out beforehand and candy them for extra soup texture. If I do fry tofu again, that Serious Eats article clearly shows I have a lot more to learn about it. Not sure I’ll ever get all the way up that learning curve since I am trying not to eat overmuch processed soy.

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