You may have noticed that I’ve been working with Swanson® again this year, producing recipes using their lineup of broths and stocks. As much as I love homemade broths and stocks, they are a mainstay in my pantry combining a great product with the ease of ready-made. To be honest, when I saw that the theme for this month’s effort was the “Power of Homemade Soup” I knew that I would be making some version of Chicken with Dumplings with their Swanson® Organic Free-Range Chicken Broth. It’s my favorite soup of all time and I like mixing it up so when their suggestion was to add some warmth to the winter season by sharing a traditional or unique homemade soup recipe, it fill the bill perfectly. Considering the title of this post today, you might ask, “So, what’s up with this Thai Butternut Squash Soup with Shrimp, Barb?”
A curveball for sure but such a fantastic one. I think better to call it a home run. If you know how I operate, I don’t spend weeks planning and researching topics for my blog posts. I’m all about sharing what we’re eating at the kitchen table, so sometimes my pantry or fridge become the focus of my inspiration and that’s what led me from my intended topic to what might be my new favorite soup of all time!
I started with a thought as simple as knowing I wanted to use the Swanson® Organic Free- Range Chicken Broth with the butternut squash sitting on my counter. When I went to retrieve some chicken from the freezer, I spied the huge shrimp that I had planned to serve for Christmas Eve (but forgot!) and I quickly realized the two might marry nicely. A quick check of the pantry where coconut milk was front and center and I was off to the races with an idea and honestly, I’m not kidding, this might be the best soup I’ve ever made!
I was imagining something not unlike the Coconut Soup I love from a local place; some savory, some sweet, a little bit of heat and all awesome. This was definitely going to be a notch higher with the squash and shrimp and I was excited to get started.
Considering that I am no expert on Thai food I did not want to make a huge misstep so I did search for some inspiration and found a recipe from Whole Foods that I knew I could use as a start with some personal modifications. Where they might have called for cubed squash to be added and cooked in the broth, I decided to roast mine because I love the flavor that develops from the longer process. In a pinch? Check out the notes on the recipe for the quicker version using cubed squash.
My goal did not include having to make a trip to the market either so I improvised a bit. No red curry paste? No problem. I had some dried red chiles that I had used recently in an Indian dish and I knew they would bring added flavor and heat. The beauty of them? You can find dried chiles anywhere. The ones I had were from an Indian market but look in the Mexican spice section of your local market and even if not exactly what I used; those will be fine. Adding a bit of curry made my version of a red chile paste and a quick call to my neighbor and I had some ginger in hand; she cooks primarily Indian cuisine and was a lifesaver. You know how that goes right? Once you decide you need fresh ginger nothing else will do!
I called my neighbor Amy who had introduced me to Indochine, a Thai restaurant near us, and told her to stop everything and hurry over for a taste. She was busy working on a short deadline for a proposal and couldn’t stop so I did what any good neighbor would do: home delivery. It was so worth it to be there for that first bite. One word, ‘Wow!’ and my testing was done. I have one serving leftover in the fridge. I’m headed there now, both excited and sad. Excited to have it for dinner and sad it will be gone.
Don’t let the notion of something I’ve labeled as ‘Thai’ scare you…this uses everyday ingredients and achieves a spectacular result. Isn’t that the best of all worlds? Enjoy!
- 1 medium butternut squash, halved and seeded
- 2-3 dried red chiles
- 1 Tbsp olive oil
- 1 small onion, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh ginger
- 1 Tbsp light brown sugar
- 1 tsp curry powder
- 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 4 cups Swanson® Organic Free-Range Chicken Broth
- 1 (14-ounce) can coconut milk
- 1 pound large shrimp, peeled and deveined (I left the tails on for photos; much easier to eat without them!)
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
- 1/4 cup shredded unsweetened coconut, toasted (optional)
- Lime wedges
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Rub the cut edge of the squash with olive oil and bake, cut side up, for approximately one hour. The squash is done when a fork can easily slide through the flesh. Remove from the oven and cool while preparing the rest of the soup.
- Put the red chiles into a small bowl and cover with Swanson Organic Free-Range Chicken Broth. Heat gently in the microwave until just warm, about 1 minute on medium heat. Let sit for 15 minutes to soften the chiles and then remove the stem and seeds. Chop the chiles and return them to the broth mixture and set aside.
- Heat the remaining olive oil in a large soup pot over medium-high heat. Add the onion, garlic and ginger and saute, stirring frequently, until the onion is translucent, about 5 minutes. Stir in red chile/broth mixture, brown sugar, curry powder, and sea salt and cook 1 minute longer.
- Scrape the cooled squash from the skin, and add it along with the broth and coconut milk to the pot and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer until the coconut oil has melted and everything is thoroughly combined.
- Using a blender, blend the soup until smooth. You will probably need to do two batches; or use an immersion blender. Return the soup to the pot and heat until simmering.
- Stir in shrimp and simmer just until cooked through, about 2 minutes. Serve in shallow bowls and garnish with cilantro and toasted coconut with lime wedges on the side.
Want to save some time? Use a nice size medium squash that has been peeled and cubed (Or buy a package of cubed squash at the grocery store). Add to the soup mixture in the same step as above and cook for at least 25 minutes until soft; proceed with rest of recipe.
This post is sponsored by Swanson® however all commentary is my own.