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Curried Butternut Squash Soup

October 8, 2010

If there was only one thing I could eat during the fall, it would be soup. Once it starts to get a little cold, the heater gets turned on, and you pull out your snuggie from the old “winter box”, you know it’s time to cozy on up and have some soup.

To me, making a great soup really takes time, good technique, and some care, but once you learn to make one great soup, you can make them all. Learn the technique, not the recipe. It’s one of my cooking mantras.

For example, I cook most of my soups with this technique:

1. Add fat (olive oil, butter, etc.)

2. Saute vegetables (onions, celery, carrots, etc.). Season with salt.

3. Add garlic + herbs/spices

4. Add main ingredient of soup (mushroom, tomato, chicken, squash). Re-season with salt.

5. Add liquid (chicken stock, water, etc.). Bring to boil, reduce to simmer.

6. (Puree & strain here if you want to) Taste and adjust seasoning (with salt, pepper, vinegar, or sugar)

7. Serve.

You can basically make any soup using this technique and I guarantee it’ll come out great. The key is to really go through the steps so your soup has layers and layers of flavor. If you just put a bunch of vegetables in a pot and let it cook for a while, the soup will be pretty one note. And the best part is,  you don’t have to cook this soup forever. You can make a great soup in 30 minutes. This technique lets you get the most out of your great ingredients and makes a soup that you can put on the table every day of the week.

This particular soup is one of my favorites. I love butternut squash. Sometimes people make squash/pumpkin soup overly sweet with lots of cinnamon and nutmeg. Frankly, I’m not a huge fan of that. I prefer mine to be very savory, so I use curry powder and rosemary to amp it up. The texture of the soup is amazingly velvety, so the garnishes of orange zest and toasted pumpkin seeds deliver some acidity and crunch to the dish. Now you know what it’ll taste like, so, let’s get to cookin’!

Curried Butternut Squash (serves 4 as appetizer)

(recipe courtesy of Vivek Surti)

I’ll teach you how to make the soup, according to the technique. But first, the ingredients.

Canola oil

1 onion, diced

1 stalk of celery, diced

1 small carrot, diced

2 cloves of garlic, minced

1 T fresh ginger, grated

2 sprigs rosemary, whole

2 T curry powder

1 butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into cubes

1/4 c. orange juice (preferably fresh)

1/4 c. water

3 T heavy cream

For garnish:

toasted pumpkin seeds

extra virgin olive oil

orange zest

sour cream

1. Add fat to pan – add some canola oil to a soup pot over medium high heat.

2. Add vegetables – add the diced onion, celery, and carrot. Season with salt and let cook until the vegetables are nice and translucent, about 5-7 minutes.

3. Add garlic + herbs/spices – add the minced garlic, grated ginger, curry powder, and whole rosemary stems (you will fish them out later). You don’t want to cut the rosemary or it will really start overpowering the flavor of your soup. Cook for about 2 minutes until you really smell the curry powder toasting.

4. Add main ingredient – throw the butternut squash in and season with salt. Toss everything to coat and let cook for 4-5 minutes.

5. Add liquid – in this case, add the orange juice and water. You should have enough liquid to come halfway up the vegetables. If you need more liquid, just add some more water. Bring the mixture to a boil, and reduce the heat to simmer. Cover the pot. Let simmer for about 10-15 minutes or until the butternut squash is tender.

6. Puree the soup in a blender until it is completely smooth. Wipe your pot clean and put a fine mesh strainer on top of it. Pour the soup through the strainer to get rid of anything that would be gritty and mess up the texture of the soup. Add the cream. Taste the soup. It may need some salt. If it tastes like a heavy soup, add some red wine vinegar to brighten it up.

7. Serve. Pour the soup into a bowl. Garnish with toasted pumpkin seeds, extra virgin olive oil, orange zest, and spoonful of sour cream, and maybe some more curry powder if you want!

See…that was pretty simple, wasn’t it? For all the fall soups I put up on the blog, I’ll follow this technique for everyone. Once you get the hang of it, you’ll be a soup making machine!



4 Comments leave one →
  1. October 8, 2010 5:50 PM

    I will try your method for soup. I am one more about method like this and what Alton Brown has in one of his cookbooks, than I am about tsps and tbs.

    For my butternut squash soup, I roast the butter nut with a little butter, curry spice mix, crushed cayenne and salt before I add it to the pot. The roasting adds such a nice flavor to the curry and squash. I am about ready to make a batch of butternut soup this weekend.

    • October 9, 2010 11:31 AM

      Oh that does sound lovely! Roasting the squash is definitely a great idea. Cayenne is also good – even for spice “wimps” 🙂


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