Curried Butternut Squash and Coconut Soup

It's really not that cold yet here in west Texas, but I am already craving my fall favorites, especially butternut squash. I had time to prepare some dishes with my seasonal favorite this past weekend because it was was fall break. The first one is for a curried butternut squash soup, but the twist is adding coconut milk and a little chili and curry kick.

I know coconut is high in saturated fat, which had gotten a bad reputation, but the type of saturated fat in coconut is short and medium chain fatty acids, which your body can quickly break down. Metabolism, which is the set of chemical reactions that happen in your body, can therefore be sped up as the fatty acids are broken down readily. That's not a bad thing, in my opinion. There are a lot of health benefits to consuming coconut, including antibacterial, antifungal, and antioxidant properties. Compounded with the benefits of coconut is the butternut squash, which has a gorgeous orange color so you know it has carotinoid pigments, which may help improve eyesight.

So basically what I am saying, this is an incredibly healthy soup that's the perfect first course for those chilly nights that are coming up. It's also quite possible the best butternut squash soup I've eaten. Not only is this healthy and filling, but it's also crazy easy to prepare. I usually like to roast my butternut squash to add some caramelized flavors, but I cheated by microwaving the squash to save time and instead allowed the onions and garlic to become golden brown. Therefore I don't miss out on the caramelized sugar flavor. Cilantro and lime are the perfect garnish for this soup...oddly enough, before I moved to Texas I never really liked cilantro, but now I guess with the Tex-Mex cuisine I've become fond of it.

P.S. Don't forget to save your butternut squash seeds to roast! Roast them in a pre-heated 300 degree F oven. Coat them with a little oil and salt and whatever dry seasonings you prefer (garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, etc..). Roast for 25-35 minutes. They're ready when they're a little brown and they rattle against the pan. For pumpkin seeds, roast for 45 minutes.

Curried Butternut Squash and Coconut Soup
Printable Recipe

1 1/2 lbs butternut squash, split in half and seeds removed
2 tsp extra virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
1 clove garlic, coarsely minced
16 oz low-sodium chicken broth
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp curry powder
dried red chili, to taste (optional)
1 15-oz can coconut milk, well-shaken
salt and pepper, to taste
Garnishes: fresh lime wedges and cilantro

1. Place the split butternut squash in a microwave-safe dish with a little water in the bottom. Steam for 15 minutes or until the flesh is soft enough to remove from the skin.
2. Meanwhile, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic, season with salt and pepper, and cook until browned.
3. Add the cooked squash to the cooked onion and garlic, then pour in the broth and season with the cumin, curry powder, and chili.
4. Add the mixture to a blender or begin blending with and immersion blender until all the vegetables are smooth. Slowly add the coconut milk, reserving a few spoonfuls for garnish, and continue blending. Re-season with salt and pepper. Place the soup back on the burner to warm through, then serve, garnished with a drizzle of coconut milk, lime juice, and cilantro.

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