We’re Cooking: Spicy Asian Pumpkin and Squash Soup

Now that we are fully into fall we made a steamy, spicy pot of pumpkin and butternut squash soup the other night that has just a hint of sweetness from coconut milk, and a lot of spice from both smoked red pepper flakes and Asian chili paste.  This recipe was inspired by our friend, Chef Andrew Ormsby who makes a slightly sweeter version of a similar pumpkin soup.

This one became that much more divine when served with a bottle of Merry Edwards Russian River Valley Pinot Noir filled with ripe raspberry, blackberry and cherry with layers of cola, baking spices and just a touch of mocha.

Russian River fruit benefits from fog cooled mornings, and  balmy temperatures during the day, creating lush, fruit forward Pinot Noir that really has its own distinct, delicious flavor.


Thai Style Pumpkin and Squash Soup
You can use either fresh pie pumpkins and butternut squash, or canned versions of both.  If you use fresh I would use 2 of the baby pie pumpkins and one 1 pound butternut squash; if you use canned it is one 16 oz can of pumpkin and 1 12 ounce can of butternut squash.  You could also use frozen butternut squash.
1 large red onion – chopped
1 leek – roughly chopped and cleaned well to remove any grit
4 carrots – chopped
2 celery stalks – chopped
4 cloves garlic – minced
2 tablespoons ginger – grated
1-2 tablespoons Sambal Oelek (adjust to your palate)
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon curry powder
1 teaspoon smoked red pepper flakes (if you can’t find smoked, regular will do…the smoke just adds an additional layer of flavor)
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 cup white wine
6 cups veggie or chicken stock – low sodium
1 can lite coconut milk
1 cup skim milk or fat free half and half (you could also use cream for a richer soup)
2 tablespoons cilantro – chopped
Salt and pepper
Olive oil

If using whole pumpkin and squash – peel the squash, cut both the pumpkin and the squash in half and scoop out the seeds, remove the stem and the core and wash well.  Place both cut side down on an oiled baking sheet, drizzle a bit of oil and salt and pepper on the top and roast in a 400 degree oven for about 20-30 minutes until the veggies are very soft.  Let cool slightly, then cut into large chunks and set aside until they are needed in the recipe. If using canned or frozen, just add to the soup when the recipe calls for them.

In a large soup pot or Dutch oven heat 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium heat.  Add the rest of the veggies and saute until they begin to soften, about 5-7 minutes, seasoning with 1 teaspoon each of salt and pepper 5 minutes into the cooking.  If the veggies are sticking add a bit of the wine, a few tablespoons at a time.  Add the squash and pumpkin.  When the veggies are soft add the Sambal, soy sauce, dried seasoning and remaining wine.  Cook for 3 minutes.  Add the chicken stock and bring to a boil.  Boil for 5 minutes then reduce the heat to a simmer.  Simmer for 10 minutes then turn the heat off and allow to cool slightly.  Working very carefully, ladle spoonfuls of the soup in batches into a blender and blend well creating a smooth consistency.  Pour the soup back into the Dutch oven and return to a simmer.  Whisk in the coconut milk and skim milk, stirring continually to make sure the milk doesn’t curdle. Heat through.  When ready to serve garnish with the cilantro, adjust any final seasoning and ladle into big soup bowls.  Serve with lots of crusty bread for dipping.