Is it spring where you live? Between the bright sunny days, we’re still getting a few blustery, rainy El Niño days here in San Francisco–ideal weather for one last pot of creamy butternut squash soup. I call it liquid sunshine.
Until last fall, I always made my butternut squash soup with heavy cream, or if I was trying to be good, whole milk. Not this year. While we’re not even close to full-on vegan, we are cutting way back on dairy. This winter I made my butternut squash soup with coconut milk. I admit, I didn’t have much hope for a good outcome. Surprise! Best ever!
Here’s what happened. Last fall, on Life Is But a Dish, I ran across Laney’s almond milk butternut squash soup recipe. A lot like my own recipe. I had to give it a try. So simple. So fast–ready in 30 minutes–and easy too.
As it happened, over the weekend I had roasted up two butternut squashes, along with other root vegetables, so I had a couple of quarts of roasted and cubed butternut squash in the fridge, but no almond milk. We don’t buy the plastic-bottled stuff in the supermarket, and I hadn’t tried making my own yet. That’s changed. I’ll tell you all about it one day soon!
But hey, wouldn’t this soup be wonderful with coconut milk? I just happened to have nearly a quart of fresh-made on hand.
Of course, once I started messing with the recipe, I altered it several other ways. For one, I knew we’d eat it for supper, as a light one-dish meal. For full-meal balance, I needed to add a little extra protein and some vegetables on the opposite end of the color wheel.
In the fridge, a tightly sealed jar of fresh-roasted pepitas (pumpkin seeds) and a big batch of fresh baby kale. Don’t you love those tender leaves? So good in salads, wilted in a stir-fry, and of course, sauteed with onions and garlic.
That week, we were all fighting colds. Those vitamin-packed foods in the fridge called to me with a siren song. Out they came, the squash hitting the soup kettle on top of already sauteing onions, garlic and a little freshly grated ginger. I let them cook together long enough to mix the flavors and imbue them all with a bit of that wonderful caramelization that brings out the sweetest tastes. Oh, I wish you could breathe in the aromas!
But you know, this is a one-bowl dinner for us. That night, we were hungry. Time was short. While a gentle heat and the vegetables worked their magic together, I washed that baby kale, chopped the rest of my onion and garlic a little finer, and sauteed them together in a skillet on the other burner.
When the squash vegetables were just right, I drizzled in a little coconut milk, stirring gently to help it warm quickly. As soon as the coconut milk tested hot, almost scalding, but not quite, I dipped my immersion blender into the pot and in less than a minute had the creamiest, most flavorful butternut squash soup you can imagine.
By the time the soup was ready, my greens were too. I tossed in a handful of the pre-roasted pepitas. Done!
Filling our bowls, we breathed in the colors and scents, then spooned a pile of the greens and pepitas on top. The slight chewiness of the kale, the crisp seeds reminded us to slow down and savor every bite, sensing the textures on our tongues, exclaiming over the colors.
Sometimes a simple bowl of soup is a vanishing moment of art that feeds all the senses.
Here’s the recipe. Whether you look forward every autumn to the first pot of butternut squash soup like we do, or haven’t tried this delightful bowl of sunshine yet, you’re in for a treat.
Coconut butternut squash soup with sauteed baby kale and roasted pepitas
Alchemy! All the individual flavors of the components blend together into one flavor sensation in this creamy smooth soup. We use less and less oil these days, hence the range. Likewise with the ginger. I like my soup spicy. Sweetheart not so much, so spice it up or down to suit you and your family’s taste buds.
- 1 -2 T Olive oil
- 1-1/2 Large yellow onions, divided
- 3 Cloves garlic, chopped
- 1-2 t Grated or minced fresh ginger root
- 4-5 Cups cooked and cubed butternut squash
- 1-1/4 t Sea salt, divided
- 2 C Coconut milk
- 3/4 t Garam marsala
- 1 Clove garlic, minced
- 4-5 C Baby kale or chopped kale leaves (sans stems), loosely packed
- Juice of 1 small lime or 1/2 lemon
- Freshly ground black pepper to taste
- 3 T Toasted pepitas (Pumpkin seeds)
- In a soup kettle over medium flame, heat olive oil to barely sizzling (never smoking) and saute one chopped onion until well caramelized on one side. Turn and add chopped garlic, ginger, 3/4 t salt and squash. Saute 5-10 minutes, turning once or twice. Cover and cook over medium-low flame 5-6 minutes more, turning a couple times. Sprinkle and stir in the garam marsala in the last three minutes.
- Meanwhile, heat 1-2 T water in the same skillet, and saute remaining half onion and minced garlic till nicely caramelized. Add the kale and remaining 1/2 t salt. Wilt the kale until easy to turn in the pan. Add the lime or lemon juice and stir all into the onions until well combined. Turn heat to medium low and continue to cook for 3-4 minutes, turning once or twice.
- To the vegetables in the soup kettle, drizzle in the coconut milk, stirring constantly. Blend with an immersion blender in the pot until smooth, about 1 minute. (Alternatively, transfer soup to a stand blender, puree and return to the kettle.) Heat the soup over medium-low flame just enough to serve steaming hot.
- Ladle soup into the bowls, add about a quarter cup of kale mixture to each bowl, or to individual tastes, and garnish with the pepitas.
Serve immediately with crunchy whole wheat bread sticks or scones. Your clan hungry for more than a bowl? Steamed broccoli sprinkled with toasted sesame seeds makes a colorful side with this soup and complements the tastes and textures beautifully.
This is a YayYay’s Kitchen original recipe. Please link back to this page if you use mine as a base for a recipe of your own.
Not too late for one more pot of soup!
We enjoyed this soup this winter. I’m looking forward to one more kettle of its creamy goodness before all the spring and summer vegetables hit the stores full swing. Which winter soups are you not quite ready to give up?
♥ ♥ ♥