The story of this soup all began in Walla Walla, Washington, back in November. We were there for Fall Release Weekend “representing” for Proper Wines, and giving a group of friends the insider’s scoop on the winery. It was a fabulous trip. Walla Walla couldn’t have been more charming, the wines being made there are making this region famous, and the food was just flat-out memorable. We had some delicious meals at Whitehouse Crawford, T. Maccarone’s and Saffron Mediterranean Kitchen. But the place we kept hopping into for a quick snack, or a coffee (complete with beautiful pastries), or lunch was a place called Olive Market & Café. A totally casual place that realizes that freshly made pizzas, homemade soups, charcuterie and bountiful salads are what good food is all about and not forgetting to offer a nice glass of Riesling or a elegant Syrah. And it was here at Olive where we tried their Coconut Curry Butternut Squash Soup. Simply put, this is a soup to crave. And after we left Walla Walla, that’s exactly what happened. I began craving this soup. Had to have it. So, I hopped online to see if perhaps Olive had been generous enough to share the recipe, but no luck. There are plenty of recipes for this type of soup, but nothing looked quite right. I found one that seemed like it might give me the soup I had remembered and I adjusted the ingredients a bit, but once I made it, I was disappointed. The soup I had at Olive was just bursting with flavor and the simplicity of curry, coconut milk and butternut squash. And so I tried again with just those ingredients in mind. Plus a bunch of leeks which I knew would compliment the sweetness of the soup without distracting from the three core flavors. That was it! The heat from the curry comes on slow and grows, and the silky texture is addictive. Rave reviews from family and friends and a nice way to keep things toasty this time of year.
Coconut Curry Butternut Squash Soup
Inspired by Olive Café & Market, Walla Walla, WA: recipe by Stephanie Kunstle
- 5 (ish) lbs. of butternut squash (2-3 squash)
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
- 5 medium to large leeks
- 3 tsp. curry powder
- 2 c water
- 2, 15-oz cans coconut milk well shaken (regular or low fat), 2 Tbsp. reserved for garnish
- 2-4 cups water, divided
- salt to taste
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F
- Cut off stem from each squash, cut neck of squash off of bulb and slice each piece down the middle. Scoop seeds out of the cavity, and then rub exposed squash flesh with extra virgin olive oil. Sprinkle well with salt and lay cut-sides up on a baking sheet. Bake for 30-45 minutes, or until squash is very tender and is easily pierced by a fork.
- Meanwhile, remove dark green parts and roots from leeks. Slice leeks lengthwise and then into 1-ince pieces and wash well in a colander or salad spinner. Spin or pat until they aren’t drenched in water.
- Add olive oil to a large stock pot and heat over just medium heat. Add leeks and the curry powder and sauté on medium-low heat until leeks are softened but not browned, about 10 minutes.
- Add 2 cups of water to the pot, and cook leeks, covered, over low heat until cooked through (about 5-10 more minutes).
- Scoop the cooked squash out of the skins, and put half of it in a food processor. Add 1 can coconut milk, and half the leeks (in their juice). Puree until completely smooth and pour into a large bowl.
- Puree the remainder of the squash, leeks and coconut milk (be sure to reserve 2 Tbsp. coconut milk for garnish) and add back into the large pot, along with the first puree, over low heat.
- Add 1-2 cups of water slowly, stirring as you add to achieve the PERFECT texture. It should not be too thick (this is not spicy baby food), and it should not be watery. Think of a nice bisque consistency and go for that.
- Heat the soup on low heat, stirring frequently, until hot. Serve in bowls with a swirl of coconut milk in the center. I use a small spoon for tea to do this and achieve the best control.