coconut winter squash soup – with coriander, cinnamon & mint
My husband (aka spreesgratefulguineapig) and I are happy-tired. We’ve had a lot of fun these last few days, eaten out with friends and family far more than we normally do, and kept some late nights. We’re ready to settle in at home again, so grateful for celebrations like these and grateful too for the quiet peace that descends when it’s over. It’s 100% comfort on the table tonight. A bowl of savory winter squash soup, made creamy with the addition of coconut milk infused with stick cinnamon, whole cloves and coriander seeds, fresh mint leaves and dried red chili peppers.
I’ll make some herbed buttermilk biscuits too, with a twist. And we’ll have a green salad with cheese, toasted nuts and perfectly ripe pear.
Instead of roasting the squash after first peeling it, then cutting it into cubes, we’re taking the simple way out – halve the squash, remove the seeds, drizzle olive oil on the cut surfaces, place face down on a baking sheet and bake for 45 minutes or so. Then the squash is easily scooped out and into the soup pot. Takes only minutes to do. And while the squash is roasting away you can prepare the rest of dinner. Love a dinner that comes together that way!
Another thought: This soup easily becomes a delicious squash purée by simply adding less water.
Coconut Winter Squash Soup – with Coriander, Cloves, Cinnamon & Mint
(makes about 2 quarts soup)
- 3 – 3½ pound winter squash (butternut, kabocha, etc.)
- light olive oil or vegetable oil
- 15 black peppercorns
- 15 coriander seeds
- 4-inch piece cinnamon stick, broken into pieces
- 12 whole cloves
- 3 small dried red chilies, seeds removed (or 1 large jalapeno pepper, de-ribbed and minced) – (if you love heat, add another dried red chile)
- ½ cup loosely packed mint leaves, roughly chopped
- 1 can coconut milk (13+ oz.) + ½ cup water
- 3 Tablespoons butter
- 1½ yellow onions, finely diced
- salt to taste
Garnish: 1 Tablespoon each finely chopped mint leaves & cilantro
Preheat oven to 375°F. Cut the squash in half using a heavy knife. Scoop out the seeds. Brush the surfaces with oil and place cut-side down on a baking sheet. Pop in the oven until soft to the touch, 30 to 45 minutes depending on what type and size squash you’re using.
While the squash is baking, prepare a spicy infusion with the coconut milk. Empty the contents of the can into a small saucepan and add ½ cup water. Drop in the mint leaves, cloves, cinnamon stick pieces and the dried chilies (seeds removed!) Crush the peppercorns and coriander seeds and add them also to the pot. Heat over low heat – stop just short of a boil – then remove from heat, cover and allow it to steep.
In a soup pot, melt the butter and add the onion and a bit of salt. Gently cook the onions until softened. Once the squash has cooled enough to handle, scoop out the flesh into the pot with the onions. Add 5 cups of water. Simmer gently until the squash has broken up, 15 to 25 minutes.
With an immersion blender (or using a regular blender and working in batches) blend the soup to the consistency you like. It’s good either completely silky smooth or with larger bits. (Immersion blenders certainly make light work of it.) Then using a fine strainer, add the coconut milk infusion to the soup and heat to steaming – being careful not to boil.
Garnish with equal parts of chopped mint leaves and cilantro.
(The biscuits from tonight’s dinner will likely appear in a post tomorrow.)