Curried Butternut Squash Soup
Making Your Own Curry Makes All The Difference
- Servings: Makes about 8 cups of soup.
Curry is a mix of spices and its flavor will vary depending upon what's included in your mix. More heat or sweetness will come from the individual spices as well as the ratio of each in the mix.
In this recipe, shared with The City Cook by a reader who credited the curry mix to Sumanth Das, a chef who was born in Bombay (now Mumbai), raised in Indonesia, and has inspired the kitchens at Monsoon in Chicago and The Four Seasons Maldives.
Aside from grinding and mixing this superb and aromatic curry that has just a slight fragrant sweetness and the aura of heat, the rest of the recipe is simple to make. Use vegetable stock and canola oil to make the soup 100% vegetarian.
A tip for prepping the squash: peel with a vegetable peeler, use a sturdy chef's knife to cut the squash into pieces, and use a grapefruit spoon, the kind with a serrated edge, to help scrape out the fibrous pulp and seeds that are in the bottom part of the squash. You can also use a melon baller to scape out the seeds.
- 1 1/2 tablespoons curry powder (see mix below)
- 1 butternut squash, about 2 1/2 pounds when whole, to produce about 8 cups of peeled and cubed pieces of squash
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter (or canola oil)
- 1 medium onion, peeled and diced (about 1 cup)
- 1 clove garlic, finely minced (about 1 tablespoon)
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 6 grinds black pepper
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 teaspoon honey
- 6 cups chicken stock (or vegetable stock or water)
- Make the curry powder in advance, ideally just before you make the soup.
- Peel the butternut squash and cut into 1-inch pieces, discarding the seeds and pulp that is in the lower part of the squash.
- In a large soup or stock pot, melt the butter over a medium high heat. Add the onion and sauté until the pieces are soft but not brown, about 3 to 5 minutes
- Add the garlic and stir until it is fragrant, about 45 seconds.
- Add the squash pieces and stir to combine with the onion and garlic. Season with 1/2 teaspoon salt and about 6 grinds of black pepper. Sprinkle the curry powder over the squash and stir to combine everything together.
- Add about 6 cups of stock, enough to completely cover all the squash. Add the honey and the bay leaf and bring the mixture to a boil. Lower the head to a simmer and cover the pot partially so that a little steam can escape but leave the pot covered enough so that the soup doesn't cook off.
- Simmer for about 30 minutes until the squash is soft and beginning to fall apart.
- Remove the bay leaf.
- Purée using an immersion blender or by transferring the hot mixture to a blender or food processor. Process until the soup is completely smooth. If you purée in a blender or food processor, work in batches and don't overfill it because hot ingredients will rise up when you turn the machine on, risking overflowing if you've put too much in the container.
- Taste and adjust the seasoning. If the soup is still too thick, thin with a little more stock or water.
12 Tablespoons coriander seeds
2 Tablespoons cumin seeds
4 teaspoons fenugreek
4 teaspoons black mustard seed
4 teaspoons fennel seeds
2 Tablespoons whole black peppercorns
2 teaspoons ground cloves
½ cup turmeric
2 Tablespoons chili powder
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons grated nutmeg
Working with one spice at a time, grind the seeds and whole spices into a fine powder and mix well together in a bowl or plastic storage container. This quantity of spices together produce about 2 1/2 cups curry. Store well covered.
One of the best sources for spices in the country is New York's Kalustyan's spice market, located in the "Curry Hill" neighborhood in Manhattan's east 20's.
Puréed vegetable soups can always be made more rich with a little cream or half-and-half. Alternatively you can add a dollop of yogurt or sour cream with each serving.