Soup is the quintessential food of January. Salads would be the obvious choice given the upswing in dieting and healthy eating which occurs at the beginning of each new year. However when it is snowing and the air is chilled to sub-zero temperatures a cold salad is about as appealing as a cold shower. Luckily soup fits the bill nicely, providing warmth, comfort, and a healthy dose of vegetables- without the well traveled lettuce and sad winter tomatoes.

We love soup all year long but when winter creeps in I find myself making soup on a weekly basis. A big pot will reheat easily in the microwave providing us with quick lunches and a start to dinner. After the holiday gluttony one of the easiest ways to find satisfaction in leaner dinners is to start off with a big bowl of filling (but low in calories) soup. This week we went the route of butternut squash. Now, I’ve made butternut squash soup a few times before. What set this recipe apart was the splendid use of coconut milk and curry and a new method for dealing with the squash.

Typically butternut squash is royal pain the deirrere to peel, seed, and chop. My skin always has some weird reaction to the raw squash, turning orange and itching like crazy. So while I love squash soup I loathe making it. Thanks to the beautiful Esalen cookbook I now have a dead simple method for prepping butternut squash that avoids all pain suffering! You pierce the skin of the squash a few times with a knife and stick it in the oven for an hour. Once baked, the squash is cut in half, the seeds scoop right out, and the skin peels off with ease. The squash is soft enough to scoop out but not so soft that it can’t be cut into chunks if desired. No more hacking away at the skin. No more tough stringy seeds and no more itchy fingers. It is fantastic!

A strong dose of curry powder is balanced out with creamy (but light) coconut milk giving this soup a sweet/hot quality that warms you from the inside out. The strong flavors and smooth texture belie the fact that this soup is vegan and only 100 calories per cup. Mr. B declared that it was the “perfect vegan soup” meaning that he wasn’t itching to add Parmesan cheese or missing the heavy cream. If you are embracing January foods with gusto, pop a squash in the oven and break out the curry for a warming and healthy bowl of soup.

Curried Butternut Squash Soup Print Recipe

Recipe Thumbnail

Minimally adapted from: Esalen Cookbook

Serves 10 Cups

Serving Size: 1 Cup

Calories per serving: 101

Fat per serving: 2.51 grams


  • 1 large Butternut Squash (about 6 cups)
  • 1 teaspoon Olive Oil
  • 1 medium Onion, diced
  • 2 stalks Celery, trimmed, strings removed, and diced
  • 2 Tablespoons Curry Powder (Mild or Hot according to your tastes)
  • 3 cups Light Coconut Milk
  • 2 teaspoons Sea Salt
  • 3 cups Vegetable Stock
  • 2 Tablespoons Chopped Cilantro

Cooking Directions

Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees with a rack in the middle. Place the squash on a baking tray, and pierce the flesh a few times with a sharp knife. Bake the squash in the oven for 1 hour, until you can stick a knife in the squash and it cuts through the flesh like butter (no resistance). Let the squash cool slightly, then cut it in half lengthwise. Scoop out and discard the seeds and strings. Scoop out the pulp and/or peel off the skin. Set the pulp aside and discard the skin.
Set a large soup pot over high heat. Add the oil and saute the onion until it is soft, about 5 minutes. Next add the celery and curry powder. Cook until the celery is tender. Lower the heat to medium and add the squash pulp, coconut milk, salt, and vegetable stock. Use a stick blender and puree until the soup is smooth. Stir in the chopped cilantro. Serve warm.

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