Curried Butternut Squash Soup
One of the things I love about butternut squash, or any winter squash for that matter, is that they’re practically indestructible. They last for months. You can harvest one in November and still find it perfectly good to eat in February (as long as you store it in a cool, dry place).
For the last month I’ve had a hankering to make curried squash soup, and for the last month the squash I picked out for this purpose has been greeting me from the kitchen counter every morning. Well, the stars finally fell into proper squash soup making alignment and the result was this lovely curried squash soup.
The trick is to brown the cubed squash bits first, in a little oil and butter. That really brings out the squash flavor. The trick to that, of course, is effectively cutting a very hard squash. For this you need a large, sharp knife, and a sharp vegetable peeler (I recommend using one with a carbon blade). Some stores sell butternut squash already cut up too.
In addition to curry powder, the seasonings include fresh grated ginger and whole mustard seeds. Finish with a dollop of sour cream and fresh cilantro to bring the soup into balance. My mother and father both declared the soup a triumph, and we’ve been feasting on the leftovers for days.
It's easier to peel a butternut squash if you microwave it whole for 30 seconds first. That short amount of time helps soften the peel just enough to make it easier to work with.
- 1 2-lb butternut squash, peeled, seeded, diced into 1/2-inch to 3/4-inch cubes, yielding about 6 cups of cubed squash (see how to cut and peel a butternut squash)
- Olive oil
- 1 teaspoon butter
- 1 large yellow onion, chopped
- 2 teaspoons yellow curry powder
- 1 teaspoon whole mustard seeds (if you substitute ground mustard, only use 1/4 teaspoon)
- A dash of ground cumin
- 1 Tbsp minced fresh ginger
- 4 cups chicken stock
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup sour cream (can substitute plain yogurt)
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro (can substitute parsley)
1 Sauté the cubed squash: Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a large, thick-bottomed stock pot on medium heat. Add a dab of butter to the olive oil.
Working in two batches so as not to crowd the pan, add the cubed butternut squash to the pan. Toss to coat all sides with oil. Sprinkle a little salt over the squash. Then spread out in an even layer and let cook, stirring only occasionally, so that the edges and sides get lightly browned.
You may need to adjust the heat up to ensure browning, or down to prevent burning or drying out. Add more oil and butter for the additional batches. Remove from pan and set aside.
2 Sauté the onions, spices, ginger: Heat another tablespoon of olive oil in the pot, on medium heat. Add the chopped onions and cook, stirring now and then, until softened. Add the curry powder, mustard seeds, cumin, and fresh ginger, and cook for a minute or so longer. Use a flat bottomed wooden or metal spatula to scrape up any browned bits.
3 Add the squash, stock, salt, then simmer: Return the butternut squash to the pot. Add the chicken stock and a teaspoon of salt. Increase the heat to bring to a simmer, then lower the heat to maintain a low simmer, cover the pot. Cook for 40 minutes until squash is completely tender.
4 Purée the soup: Use an immersion blender (or a stand up blender in which case work in batches) to blend the soup smooth. Add more salt to taste if needed.
5 Serve with sour cream and cilantro: Serve in individual bowls with a dollop of sour cream and some chopped cilantro.