Squash of all types are flooding farmers’ markets now, creating festive and colorful displays pleasing to the eye. Not only are squash oddly delightful to admire by sight, they’re also satisfyingly buttery and sweet to the palate, in addition to being nutritious sources of beta-carotenes and other vital nutrients.
From pumpkins and spaghetti squash to acorns and butternuts, there are a variety of ways to integrate squash into your fall and winter meals. Among them is with this unique and flavorful soup recipe from the lovely Rancho La Puerta.
Thai curry paste gives a zing of spice to balance the sweetness of the soup and to step it up a notch, serve the soup in hollowed out miniature pumpkins or small squash, as suggested below under “variation.”
Whether you’re cooking for your family or for a dinner party, this incredibly simple and seasonal recipe will wow your guests and you’ll likely impress yourself with it too.
Squash-Apple Soup with Thai Red Curry (serves 6)
2 tsp olive oil
1 small butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cubed (about 4 cups)
1 apple, cored, peeled, and diced
2 leeks, white part only, washed and sliced
1 small carrot, peeled and sliced
½ stalk celery, finely chopped
1 tbsp chopped fresh basil
2 tsp Thai red curry paste (see note)
4 cups basic vegetable stock
2 cups water
1 tbsp brown sugar
2 tsp sea salt, or more to taste
Thinly sliced chives
Thin strips of orange zest (optional)
- In a 4-quart saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the squash, apple, leeks, carrot, celery, and basil and cook, stirring often, until the vegetables are softened; do not brown. Add the curry paste and cook, stirring constantly, for 1 minute. Add the stock, water, brown sugar, and salt. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer for 45 minutes, or until the vegetables are very soft.
- Cool for 30 minutes, then, in a blender or in the bowl of a food processor, puree until absolutely smooth.
- Reheat and taste for seasoning, adding salt if needed. Serve very hot, with a sprinkling of chives and the orange and zest, if desired.
Variation: To prepare squash bowls, choose small acorn squash or pumpkins no more than 6 inches in diameter. Scrub the squash in cold water. Cut off the top quarter of the squash—saving it to use as a lid—and a small slice from the bottom, so the squash sits flat without wobbling. (With the harder varieties, you may need to use a saw.) Scoop out the insides to create a cavity large enough to hold 8 ounces of soup. Brush inside and out with oil and bake for 15 minutes at 400°F, until shiny and lightly browned but still firm. Use within 24 hours.
Note: Thai red curry paste tastes nothing like Indian curry. Sold in small jars, the paste is pungent and quite spicy, and it will last months in the refrigerator.