Monday, 13 June 2011

meat-free monday: thai butternut soup

I'm in my home town this week. 

'Home town' is a strange term since I left it almost half a lifetime ago, and I feel so displaced whenever I come back. It's a small town - or at least the mentality is - where even though I've been away for so long, I recognize familiar faces in the local chemist; where I think the best career to have would be a sign-writer as all that is guaranteed is that new businesses open, close, and are reborn with different names; and where my mother smugly told me that she had to explain to the woman who sits next to her at work what 'hummus' was. 

That said, later that evening my mom asked me what to do with a can of coconut milk that someone had mistakenly bought for her. 

All I could think of is Thai butternut soup, and given that it's winter here and the community seems very concerned at my penchant for wearing flip flops during this particularly cold snap (um, it's 24 degrees - centrigrade. South African's don't know what cold is!) it seemed a perfect Meat-Free Monday recipe.

I've googled a bazillion recipes, but this from the Eclectic Cook had both the best story, and easiest recipe.

And as we know, I'm all up for easy. 

1 large butternut squash, about 2 pounds
1 tbsp oil
¼ cup onion, minced
1 tbsp freshly grated ginger
2 cloves garlic
1-2 tsp Thai Red Curry paste, more if you like it hotter
6 kaffir lime leaves, middle vein removed and torn into pieces
4 cups chicken broth
1 13-14 oz can unsweetened coconut milk
1 tsp kosher salt
2 tbsp freshly squeezed lime juice
Toasted coconut for garnish (optional)
Preheat over to 400°F. Cut the squash in half lengthwise and remove the seeds. Brush the cut sides of the squash with oil and place cut side down on a baking sheet.  Roast for 45 minutes to 1 hour or until very tender. The squash should have a creamy texture. Once the squash has cooled enough to handle, scoop the flesh out of the peel using a spoon.
In an heavy bottomed pot, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onion, ginger and garlic and saut√© until softened, about 3 minutes. Add the curry paste and cook for a few more minutes. The curry will start to give off a wonderful aroma. Stir in the chicken broth, coconut milk, salt, squash and shredded lime leaves. Simmer for 15 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in the lime juice. Puree soup with a hand mixer or in a blender.  Serve garnished with unsweetened coconut toasted at 400°F for 2-3 minutes, or until golden brown.


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