Monday, October 5, 2015

Roasted Butternut Squash Soup with Coconut Milk

Roasted Butternut Squash Soup with Coconut Milk

Today I'm reaching back into my post archives to resurrect one of my favorite soup recipes ever--roasted butternut squash soup with coconut milk. I posted the original recipe 2 years ago on the blog and have come a long way since then in terms of food photography. But, the recipe...well, that hasn't changed one bit. If it ain't broke, don't fix it, right? 

I had no intention of making any tweaks because this butternut squash soup is AH-MAZING! Seriously. I'm not just tooting my own horn.

Here's what a few commenters had to say on the original post:
"This might be the most amazing soup I've had in my 34 years on planet earth. lol. Thanks for the recipe!" - Elizabeth 
"UM. This soup is so good.. it has changed my life. I shall tell EVERYONE I know! And you were so right, it is VERY filling! Thanks so much for this brilliance!" - Christina

These are the types of comments I live for! ::gushes::

So why is this soup recipe so awesome? It's creamy and decadent, YET super healthy, low carb, and deceptively filling. And taking the extra (easy) step of cubing and roasting the squash gives it so much more flavor. 

It's the perfect dish to usher in the fall season, then eat on and off all winter long when you're looking for a lighter meal in between heavy comfort foods.

Butternut Squash Nutrition 

Let's pause for a second and take a look at some nutrition stats for butternut squash because they definitely merit mentioning! 

This curvy winter squash is a member of the gourd family and has a vibrant orange interior that signifies a high level of antioxidant carotenoids, specifically beta-carotene. But the health benefits don't stop there!

Butternut squash has:
  • excellent amounts of vitamin A, C, B6, fiber, and manganese
  • good amounts of potassium, vitamin K, folate, omega-3 fats & magnesium
  • low calories and is filling

Since I love butternut squash so much, I've tried my share of soup recipes over the years. I've never been disappointed; however, the majority of butternut squash soups are on the sweeter side. Unbelievably good, but so rich you could eat them for dessert. 

I knew I'd never get away with serving a dessert soup at home (the boyfriendo already doesn't like squash, so a sweet version would be a double strikeout) and I also wanted something I could make for my dad, who can't do sweeteners.

Sweet or Savory Roasted Butternut Squash Soup (Your Choice)

So I created a roasted butternut squash soup recipe with flexible flavors and toppings. It's savory and slightly spicy up until the end when you garnish each bowl with warm spices like garam masala or homemade pumpkin pie spice and a hearty drizzling of coconut milk + real maple syrup. 

Sooooo yummy.

In my mind, this creates the perfect balance of warm, creamy and slightly sweet flavors with a background of savory herbs and spiciness from cayenne pepper. 

However, waiting until the very end to add the sweet and creamy elements lets me serve the soup to folks with different dietary preferences. Each person garnishes their bowl to suit their tastes and I do the same. Everyone's happy.

How to Make Butternut Squash Soup + Recipe for Roasted Butternut Squash Soup with Coconut Milk

How to Make Butternut Squash Soup

Butternut squash soup is so simple and easy to make. Here's a quick run-down of the steps: You cook the squash in the oven and warm up some chicken or veggie stock on the stove top at the same time. When both are ready, you blend everything together with an immersion blender or regular blender, top with your favorite garnishes and serve immediately.

I told you it was easy! The only possible hurdle you might have is the cutting part. Butternut squash has a reputation for being really firm, so cutting it can take some elbow grease. 

However, in my humble opinion, this stigma is overblown. I think large sweet potatoes are harder to cut than butternut squashes. Of course, if you're using an old, dull knife you might sweat a little getting the job done. 

For this reason, some folks much prefer to slice the squash in half or bake it whole instead of cubing it. Either option works, although I prefer cubed squash because more surface area of the veggie is roasted, which equates to more flavor. 

Keep in mind that if you're short on time or want to avoid extra chopping, you can usually find cubed butternut squash in the produce section this time of year. 

Note: For a step-by-step picture tutorial showing how to peel and cube butternut squash, check out this post from The Kitchn. 

Roasted Butternut Squash Soup with Coconut Milk
An easy and flavorful roasted butternut squash soup recipe with homemade stock, veggies, and plenty of spices. Coconut milk and real maple syrup are drizzled on top for extra creaminess and a hint of sweetness, along with a sprinkle of warm spices to bring the dish together. (Dairy-Free, Grain-Free, Gluten-Free & Paleo with Vegan options)
Serves: 4-6 (this is deceptively filling)

1 medium butternut squash (approx. 2 1/2 lbs), peeled, deseeded & cubed
2-3 teaspoons of extra virgin olive oil OR coconut oil
Seasonings, to taste: sea salt, cracked black pepper, granulated garlic, herbes de Provence, cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon of butter OR coconut oil
1/2 a yellow or sweet onion, peeled and chopped
1 medium carrot, peeled and chopped
1 celery stalk, chopped
4-5 cups of homemade stock (chicken, veggie, beef, etc.)
Sea salt, to taste (I love THIS)
Cracked black pepper, to taste

For garnish:
full-fat coconut milk (canned or homemade) OR heavy cream, drizzled on top
real maple syrup, drizzle on top (sweeten to taste)
garam masalahomemade pumpkin pie spice or cinnamon powder, to taste
ginger powder, to taste
cayenne pepper, to taste

Note: Garam masala is a spice blend that generally contains the following ingredients in varying amounts (depending on the producer's recipe) - black pepper, cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, cumin, and coriander. If you can, grab a bottle to use in squash soups like this or on roasted veggies. 

Recommended Equipment
sharp knife
wooden cutting board
quality vegetable peeler
large rimmed baking sheet
blender or immersion blender

Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees. Cut the tips off the butternut squash, halve it using your sharpest knife, scoop out the innards and peel the rest of the squash with a good peeler. Cut the butternut squash into inch sized cubes and spread out evenly on a baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil or melted coconut oil and season to taste with the sea salt, pepper, garlic and herbes de Provence (or your favorite dried herbs). Bake for 30-40 minutes, or until the squash is fork tender.

Meanwhile, heat a stock pot on medium and add the cooking oil. Peel and chop the onion, then add it to the pan. Cook for 5-7 minutes. Peel and chop the carrot and celery, then add those, too. Cook for another 5 minutes. Pour in the homemade stock (I used chicken), add sea salt and cracked black pepper to taste and cook for 20-30 minutes, or until the veggies are tender.

When both the squash and veggies are tender, let them cool for a few minutes. From here you can either dump the squash into the stockpot with the broth and blend with an immersion blender (see note below) OR mix half of the broth and half of the squash into a blender and puree until smooth. Pour it into a separate bowl and process the second batch.

When ready to serve, reheat until warm on the stovetop and drizzle with coconut milk and sprinkle with garam masala, pumpkin spice, or cinnamon powder + ginger powder and cayenne pepper to taste. 

Notes & Tips
  • If you like a thicker butternut squash soup OR didn't weigh your squash beforehand, it may require more or less broth to achieve your desired consistency. I recommend adding half the stock to the squash and pureeing, then adding a bit more stock at a time until it's a thin as you like. 
  • If you're in a hurry and want to cut down cooking time, chop the butternut squash into smaller pieces, crank the oven to 400 or 425, and dice all of the veggies for the stock into small pieces, as well. Since you're cooking both until they're just tender, this should reduce the cooking time by at least 1/4 or maybe more. 
  • For extra creaminess, place a dollop of full-fat yogurt or sour cream on top.
  • Freeze the leftovers for a quick meal when you're tired and don't feel like cooking. This soup freezes and reheats well. 
  • This is a versatile soup that can handle many different seasoning variations, from savory to sweet. Play around with combinations of spices and add-ins until you find your favorite version.

I'd like to hear from YOU!

What's your favorite way to use butternut squash in a recipe? Which is better: savory or sweet butternut squash soup? 

Roasted Butternut Squash Soup with Coconut Milk

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