Ginger-Turmeric Butternut Squash Soup is a silky, delicious vegetarian/vegan dish that’s easy to make and takes just a few ingredients. The gorgeously colored soup is perfect for a lunch or light dinner.
Before I dive into my Ginger-Turmeric Butternut Squash Soup recipe, let me first say that I’m late on posting my weekly-ish recipe because life happened. Specifically, the hubster and I laid a tile floor over the weekend. Lots of lifting, doing stuff on hands and knees, up and down and up and down—you get the idea. We woke up so sore the next morning that we could hardly do anything but whimper. And now, 2 days later, it’s even worse: I swear that I have never been this sore in my life—even after backpacking through the Grand Canyon!
On the bright side, we now have a gorgeous tile floor in our 3-season porch and inflated sense of DIYer pride.
Okay. Enough whining. Back to Ginger-Turmeric Butternut Squash Soup.
I first made this soup at a friend’s house, when I rescued a poor butternut squash that was showing the first signs of weepiness and was about to hit the compost pile. My friend had carrots, shallots, ginger, coconut milk, and a good selection of spices available: so this soup immediately came to mind.
Ginger-Turmeric Butternut Squash Soup: some brief science geekery
In case you didn’t know, ginger and turmeric are MFEO (that’s Made For Each Other [in Sleepless in Seattle speak]). Beyond that, they’re superfoods. Ginger tea is great for colds and upset tummies. The root contains a substance called gingerol, which is chemically related to capsaicin (the stuff that makes peppers hot). Research shows that this compound blocks some cytokines—signaling molecules secreted by the immune system—that promote inflammation. Turmeric contains curcumin, which is not only believed to have anti-inflammatory properties, but also antioxidative effects. Long story short: ginger and turmeric are healthy eats.
Making the Ginger-Turmeric Butternut Squash Soup
Since this is Flipped-Out Food, I generally don’t roast squash: it’s a painstaking process, and the microwave can shorten the cooking time significantly without any sacrifice to flavor. So I stab the squash in several places, put it on a microwave-safe plate, and nuke for 8 minutes. During this time, I listen carefully, because squealing sounds indicate that the squash is about to blow up. Don’t worry: I’ve done it a few times. The worst thing that happens is a loud boom—and, unfortunately, a ginormous mess to clean out of the microwave.
A large squash can generally be nuked for 10 minutes—but I always check at 8 for the reason above. While the squash cooks, I prep the other ingredients: peeling and mincing the ginger, grating carrots, and mincing shallots. Why grate the carrots? We want a silky soup and carrots take forever to soften up—so I grate them to accelerate the cooking process (finer is better).
I carefully pull the hot squash out of the microwave and let it cool for a few minutes (it should be very soft) while I start sautéing the veggies in some olive oil (you could also use butter for a richer soup; if you’re vegan and/or oil-free, use vegetable broth). I put them on fairly low heat and essentially sweat them until they’re really soft, but not caramelized at all.
Meanwhile, I cut the top off of the butternut squash, slice the squash in half lengthwise, and scoop out the seeds and slimy guts in the cavity with a big spoon. Then, using the same spoon, I scoop the now-soft flesh out of the skin of the squash, cut it all up into roughly 1-inch pieces, and add it to the pot. I continue sautéing and softening as needed (usually about 5 more minutes is enough).
Simmering, puréeing and storing the Ginger-Turmeric Butternut Squash Soup
Next, I add the turmeric, sauté for just a minute or so until the spice becomes fragrant, and then add the coconut milk and salt. The soup simmers over medium-low heat for 20 minutes. After that, it’s a simple matter of puréeing the soup: my favorite method is to use an immersion blender. To get it really silky while simultaneously avoiding squirts of hot soup, I stir the soup well and transfer batches into steep-sided storage containers and buzz until completely smooth. The advantage with this is that you can easily store any extras in the fridge or freezer:
You can, of course, also use your blender or food processor for this task: just make sure to be careful with the hot soup (Bon Appétit has a great piece on avoiding blending disasters here).
And that’s it! Not exactly a weeknight-quick dinner, but it IS a perfect cooking project to do over the weekend—you’ll have a ready-made Meatless Monday meal!
Now I’m limping off to soak in a hot bath with some Epsom salts…
- 1.5 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil or coconut oil*
- 1 butternut squash
- 2 large shallots, minced
- 4 baby carrots, grated
- 1.5-inch cube ginger, peeled and finely minced
- 2 tsp. turmeric
- ¼ tsp. salt, or to taste
- 2 14-oz. cans coconut milk, shaken
- Using a paring knife, stab the squash in several places. Place on a microwave-safe plate and microwave for 8 minutes. Pay close attention and listen for squealing sounds (especially after 5 minutes): these indicate that the squash is about to explode. In this event, turn off the microwave and let the squash sit for a minute or two. Then resume microwaving (and listening carefully), up to 10 minutes or until the squash is very soft.
- Add the olive oil* to a large, heavy-bottomed pot or Dutch oven over medium heat. When the oil is shimmering, add the shallots, carrots, and ginger. Reduce heat to medium-low and sweat the vegetables until soft but not caramelized, about 10 minutes.
- Meanwhile, prepare the butternut squash. Cut the top off and slice the squash in half lengthwise. Use a large spoon to scoop the seeds and fibrous innards from the cavity. Discard. Scoop the flesh out of the skin of the squash and cut into ~1-inch pieces. Add it to the vegetables in the pot; continue sweating for an additional 5 minutes.
- Add the turmeric and sauté for just a minute or so until the spice becomes fragrant. Add the coconut milk and salt. Simmer the soup simmers over medium-low heat for 20 minutes. Turn off the heat and let cool for 5 minutes.
- Use an immersion blender, food processor, or blender to carefully purée the hot soup until silky smooth. Serve and enjoy.
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