November 22, 2010

Thai Kabocha Soup

I love Thai food. The smell of yellow curry sends me into a fit of hunger that isn't settled until I leave a restaurant with Thai food baby. I don't get to eat it out often these days, but always feared making it at home because it just seems like a cuisine that is always better made by the professionals. Plus, all the exotic (re: expensive) ingredients deterred me because I didn't want to spend $30 for one dish.

Well, last night I had a horrible craving for Thai food, so I threw caution to the wind and begrudgingly went to Whole Foods. Shocking, I know. After carefully scouring the produce section for what I needed, dropping stalks of lemongrass all over the floor, and forcing myself to put down the chocolate goat cheese, I left ready to take on a new challenge.

Thai kabocha soup

- 1 large kabocha squash, peeled and cubed
- 4 cups vegetable broth
- 1 15oz can full fat coconut milk
- 1 stalk lemongrass
- 1 1/2" knob of galangal or ginger
- 5 keffir lime leaves
- 1 hot chili (I used a serrano)
- 2 tbsp soy sauce*
- 1/2 tsp organic cane sugar
- Cilantro, for garnish
- Roasted peanuts, for garnish

- First, prepare your ingredients. Cut the lemongrass stalk into thirds and bruise the pieces by bending them back and forth until slightly broken. Peel your galangal (or ginger) and cut it into slices. Remove the seeds from your chili and finely mince it.
- Bring broth to a boil. Add squash, coconut milk, and remaining ingredients and bring the soup to a simmer. Cover and cook for 30 minutes, or until the squash is very tender. Remove from the heat and allow to cool slightly.
- After about 5-10 minutes, ladle half the soup into your blender and blend until smooth. Run the pureed soup through a strainer in order to remove pulp from the lemongrass and ginger. Continue until all the soup is smoothly pureed.
- Bring soup back to a boil and heat on low until ready to serve. Garnish with chopped cilantro and peanuts (and some chili flakes if you want an extra spicy kick).

* You can use fish sauce to be more authentic, but I think it's pretty vile so I opted to use soy sauce. Just use something to get that umami flavor.

I wish you all could have seen me when I was making this last night. I was so giddy I was practically skipping after I lifted the lid of the pot and was immediately hit by the scents I remember from my favorite Thai restaurant. The smell and the taste of this soup are spot on; the key to Thai cooking is to create a balance between spicy, umami, sweet and sour, and this dish does that well.

If you're tired of mashed or roasted squash, give this soup a try. You can find the ingredients at Asian supermarkets or Whole Foods and I promise that it's worth it to track 'em down.

Oh, and in case you have no idea what to look for, here are the star players:

Lemongrass, keffir lime leaves, galangal, serrano.

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  1. Looks fabulous - as usual - and it doesnt seem expensive or extravagant at all!

  2. @Faith @ lovelyascharged

    Thanks m'dear. It wasn't nearly as bad as I was anticipating. The most expensive item was the lime leaves and they were only $3. :)

  3. This sounds great. I love kabocha so this is calling my name!

  4. @Heather (Where's the Beach)

    Believe it or not, this was my first kabocha experience. I love it!

  5. i'm sorry, did you say chocolate goat cheese!?!?! ahhhhhhhhh. i'm loving soups lately!!

  6. I just recently tried Kabocha squash and I love it. So creative, wonderful recipe :)

  7. @Christina

    YES. Whole Foods has more amazing goat cheese products than I know what to do with, and the chocolate is probably the most tempting. I need to buy it.

  8. @Gina

    Same here! Though I still think my favorite squash is acorn.

  9. excellent..and i can feel mself going slurp slurp slurp..
    i would like to try this with pumpkin, in the absence of any specialized squashes!


  10. @KamalKitchen

    It would work perfectly with pumpkin. :)

  11. I tried to cook with lemongrass once and found it extremely difficult. I might have to give it a go again! :)

  12. @oliepants

    What'd you have trouble with? I'll help if I can!

  13. found your site on today and really liked it.. i bookmarked it and will be back to check it out some more later