This comforting, fall soup calls for a prepared spice blend, which gives it an Asian savor. Purchase either a warm, fragrant garam masala; the classic British favorite, Madras curry powder; a mild, sweet Japanese curry powder, or even Thai red curry paste. Spice it up further by adding your favorite chili sauce or paste, to taste.
To prepare the squash, pierce a small butternut squash or pie pumpkin with a knife several times, then bake at 350 F on a foil-lined pan for 30 minutes, or until softened. Cool, halve, remove seeds, and scrape out the pulp. Use at once or refrigerate overnight; freeze extra for later.
Toppings can vary; try chopped fresh cilantro, basil, or scallions. For a heartier soup, stir in some organic garbanzo beans or cooked wild rice before serving.
2 to 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
1 teaspoon ready-made spice blend of choice, or to taste
2 large garlic cloves, minced
2 to 3 teaspoons finely minced fresh gingerroot
1 generous cup cooked butternut squash or pumpkin pulp
1 packed cup sliced, cooked carrots (about 2 carrots)
4 cups rich chicken broth or vegetable stock, preferably homemade, divided
½ teaspoon fine sea salt or to taste
Ground black pepper, to taste
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 tablespoon fresh lime or lemon juice
½ cup unsweetened coconut milk (like Thai Kitchen), or heavy cream, extra if needed
Toppings: a drizzle of plain yogurt and toasted pumpkin or sunflower seeds
In a heavy, 3-quart saucepan, heat oil over medium heat. Saute onion until translucent and soft. Stir in spice blend, garlic, and gingerroot; cook 1 to 2 minutes more, stirring constantly. Blend squash and carrots into the onion mixture. Add 3 cups chicken broth, stirring to blend. Add salt, pepper, brown sugar, and lime juice. Simmer gently on low heat for 15 to 20 minutes.
Using a food processor, blend the mixture in 2 batches; scrape the puree from the processor bowl back into the soup pot. Stir the last cup of stock into the soup. You can use an immersion blender in the soup pot, but the texture won’t be as smooth.
Heat mixture until hot, then stir in coconut milk or cream. Heat 3 or 4 minutes more, but do not boil. If soup consistency seems a bit thick, add a little more chicken stock or coconut milk. Taste for seasoning. Ladle soup into bowls and add toppings. Serve at once. Makes about 6 cups, or 4 servings. Recipe can be doubled.
Note: I often add a fragrant fresh or dried Thai lime leaf to the simmering soup.