Friday, August 17, 2012

Coconut Curry Butternut Squash and Shrimp Soup

This one is an ultimate pantry bust! I am getting more comfortable pantry busting in unusual ways and with different flavor profiles.

The other day, I was on Pinterest and saw several posts for variations on Thai Curry Soup. As soon as I saw the pictures, my mouth began to water and I knew that I needed to make something for dinner that had those amazing Thai flavors of coconut, acidity, savory fishiness and awesome spiciness.

I turned to fridge and pantry, intent on finding ingredients that could contribute to this profile. I found a can of coconut milk and some frozen shrimp that someone who was moving and purging their freezer had given us. I always have on hand chicken bouillon. I happened to discover yellow curry paste a few months ago and had that sitting in the back of the fridge. Yellow curry paste is unbelievable. It keeps for a while in a fridge and a tablespoon is all you need to have an awesome curry dish. Rather than fussing with adding cool spices to my curry powder, I can dollop a spoon of paste into my dish and call it a day. The paste includes lemongrass, garlic, shallot, salt, galangal, dried red chili, coriander seed, kaffir lime peel, cumin, cinnamon, mace, turmeric and cardamom and no weird added stuff. good. This is the brand that I use. I found it at an Asian supermarket.
I always have a cilantro bunch and a couple limes. Sidenote, limes and cilantro are staples that I always keep on hand. Their bright flavors go into a lot of the dishes that I make, whether it is an Asian or Latin inspired dish.

I knew that I could make a great soup with the chicken broth, coconut milk, shrimp, curry paste, lime and cilantro but then I spied a lonely carton of Butternut Squash soup. It had been sitting in the pantry for a while. I knew that its sweet and creamy qualities would be awesome in the soup!

Coconut Curry Butternut Squash and Shrimp Soup

1 small onion, chopped
1/3 cup of chopped cilantro stems
1 T olive oil
2 T yellow curry paste
1 t minced ginger
3 cloves of garlic, chopped
3 cups of chicken broth
1 can of coconut milk
4 cups of butternut squash soup
Zest of 2 limes
Approximately 20 defrosted EZ peel shrimp, peeled
Peels from the shrimp
Juice of 1 lime
1/3 c. fresh cilantro leaves, chopped

Preheat olive oil in a large soup pot over medium heat. Saute the onion and cilantro stems in the olive oil until onions are translucent, approximately 5 minutes. 

Add the yellow curry paste, ginger and garlic. Stir to combine.

Deglaze the pan with the chicken broth.

Add the coconut milk, squash soup and lime zest to the pan. *If you don't have butternut squash soup on hand or would prefer to jazz up your soup, feel free to peel and chop a butternut squash, toss in some olive oil, roast until soft, puree with a little milk or chicken broth and then add that to the soup. I would imagine that chunks of roasted squash would also be unbelievable in this soup.

Add the shrimp to the pot. I left them whole but feel free to chop them.

Place the shrimp peels inside a piece of cheese cloth. Tie the cheese cloth to contain the peels. I grabbed a large mulling ball from my pantry. It contained all of my peels and kept them from getting lost in the soup. Whatever you use, submerge your contained shrimp peels in the soup.

Let the soup simmer on medium low for at least 30 minutes before serving to ensure that the shrimp cooks and the peels impart great flavor into the soup. 

*I chose to use shrimp because I had them on hand. I didn't have any fish sauce on hand which is the key to imparting a slight salty, fishy quality to any good Thai dish. I hoped that the shrimp would bring a little of the fish sauce quality to the dish. If you don't have shrimp but do have fish sauce, feel free to substitute the shrimp for 1 tbsp of the fish sauce. 

Before serving, stir in the lime juice and chopped cilantro leaves.

This is great by itself but would also be great served with rice noodles or brown rice. We served ours with a side of frozen vegetable gyoza that we pan-fried.

P.S. Please excuse the poor quality pictures, I was so excited to slurp this soup for dinner that I rushed through the picture-taking!

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