When I first got to the Twin Cities I was enamored with co-ops. I got a job cooking at one as I settled into the new city. We put out a couple of vegan options alongside the other food in the hot bar everyday. It was all priced per pound….$7.99 a pound for ready-to-eat, hot organic food. Not bad if you don’t have the time to cook and are hungry.
One particular woman was interested in the squash, simply roasted with salt and pepper. I was feeling particularly friendly that day and let her in on the secret that squash were on sale for $0.99 per pound in the produce section and this was kind of a rip off. She apparently took offense to this and said she’ll take all six pounds of the roasted squash. I was shocked, and now out of my roasted squash for the day. I’ve struggled to understand that interaction for almost ten years.
What came out of it though is the feeling that maybe something as simple squash can be prepared perfectly and worth much more to someone else. This recipe combines the strong spice of curry with the well-rounded flavor of squash and a little coconut milk to meet them in the middle. This has can have the tendency to get thick so don’t be afraid to add water to thin it, just be sure to adjust the seasoning. This is a hearty soup so be strong in seasoning. Don’t be scared of the salt here.
The garnish is an Asian play of the classic Italian gremolata. It is usually lemon zest, garlic, parsley and olive oil. Here we add a little twist, you’ll find the ginger and lime add a perfect kiss of citrus to the soup. Add all the ingredients together and drizzle with oil to maintain the green.
I’ll never forget the day I watched a woman pay $48 for 6 pounds of roasted butternut squash.
Coconut Curry Squash Soup
Makes just over one quart of soup
4 onions, diced
2 large squash (use anything from kuri to kambocha to butternut)
2 tablespoons curry
2 tablespoons salt
1 can coconut milk
one bunch of cilantro, chopped
zest of one lemon and one lime
20 grates of ginger
tablespoon olive oil
Cut the squash in half, scoop out the seeds, place cut side down on oiled baking sheet and roast at 375 degrees until tender. A trick I like to use is check them after about 30-35 minutes and if they are just about done, I shut the oven and turn the heat off. I leave them in for another thirty minutes or so. The squash steam themselves through and once they are overturned and let to cool for a few minutes, the skins peel right off and the flesh is evenly cooked.
Sweat the onions in enough oil to coat the bottom of the pan, about five minutes. After they are broken down, add the curry and reduce heat to low. Add the squash and can of coconut milk. Stir until evenly incorporated. Add two cans of water and the salt. Bring up to a simmer for five minutes. Puree and serve. Garnish with ginger gremolata.
To make the gremolata: Add cilantro, zest and ginger to a small bowl. Drizzle in the olive oil while stirring.