Squash are like the best of friends — they sit quietly on the periphery of our busy lives until you need to call them into service.
Or just when you need a bit of sunshine to brighten your day.
I bought a Kabocha squash at Whole Foods right after New Year’s — and every week I would look at it in my pantry. Not yet. Nope, not now. Soon, but not today.
And then yesterday I woke up and watched the skies upon up once again and the puddles accumulate on the sidewalk outside.
Okay, I thought. Today was the day I’d pull out that Kabocha and put it to good use.
I also found an item I’d bought a while back at New Seasons, and thought that it would pair well with the squash.
I’d never used this paste before but my friend Danielle (an amazing cook, terrific writer and fellow blogger) raved to me about these local sauces, and on her advice I’d bought a jar. I thought now might be fun to take it out for a spin.
She also did a terrific post about another soup a couple weeks back using the Thai and True Red Curry Paste — and the memory of that mouth-watering post lingered.
Time to get cracking on another kind of soup using these amazing sauces.
First up, I quartered the Kabocha, drizzled a little oil, salt and pepper on it — and then threw it in a very hot oven for roasting.
I love how the high heat concentrates and intensifies the flavors of roasted vegetables and in the case of squash, it means very little work in terms of cutting or peel removal.
Once it’s fork tender (after about 45 minutes in the oven), all I needed to do was scoop out the tender flesh.
Meanwhile, while the squash was roasting, I sauteed shallots in a little oil and then I added a tablespoon of that Panang Curry Paste when it was almost done cooking.
I then did the same thing with a giant sweet onion. Once that was sauteed, I threw both shallots and onions in a big pot with some chicken stock and a can of coconut milk along with some fresh ginger and a little minced garlic.
When the squash was cooked, I spooned all the soft flesh into the pot, and then simmered for another ten minutes or so.
I then pureed the whole lot in my Vitamix until it was a lovely and lively orange-hued puree, and when I found a couple cups of cooked basmati rice in the fridge, I added that to the pureed soup.
A little salt, pepper and the juice and zest of two limes was all it needed.
It was spicy, earthy, robust — and the rice gave it heft and a little more textural interest.
I thought I’d make a good thing even better with some interesting toppings.
I gathered cilantro, a little thinned Greek yogurt and some of those mind-blowingly good spicy Thai cashews from Trader Joe’s.
Now it was hitting all the bells for me.
Figuring that I wasn’t the only one feeling the rainy day blues, I packaged it up and hit the road.
Time to spread the Kabocha love– and squashy sunshine– around.
Happy weekend, all.
- 1 small Kabocha squash (about 3 pounds), quartered
- drizzle of neutral oil (like vegetable or canola)
- salt and pepper
- 1 large onion, sliced
- 1 large shallot, sliced
- 3 cloves garlic, minced (optional)
- 2 Tbs. Panang curry paste
- 3-14 oz. cans of chicken or vegetable stock (more or less, as desired)
- 1-14 oz. can of coconut milk
- juice and zest of 1-2 limes
- Garnishes: roasted cashews, Greek yogurt, cilantro
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
- Drizzle a little oil, salt and pepper over quartered (skin on) Kabocha squash. Put in oven until fork tender, about 45-50 minutes.
- While that is cooking, saute onions in a drizzle of oil. After 5 minutes, add shallots. Add 1-2 Tbs. Panang Curry paste, adding a tiny bit of water or chicken stock so it doesn't scorch. Add minced garlic if using, and cook for about 5 minutes until lightly caramelized.
- Add chicken stock, coconut milk, sauteed onion/shallot/garlic mixture to pot. Spoon cooked flesh of squash into pot (using all but peel) and cook for about ten minutes. Puree the whole soup in blender until silky smooth, adding more chicken stock or water for desirable consistency.
- Season to taste with salt and pepper and add the zest and juice of 1-2 limes.
- Serve warm with preferred garnishes.