I started making a variant of this soup years ago when I decided that I needed to confront my life long aversion to winter squash. It was too sweet, and the texture... fibrous and slimy at the same time. The Joy of Cooking recipe for squash soup seemed like a nonthreatening place to begin: it had leeks and ginger. I adore leeks and ginger. Actually my relationship with the entire genus Allium verges on the unnervingly enthusiastic. Anyway, the soup turned me into a raving squash nut. So I guess I succeeded in my initial goal.
Recently I've been tinkering with my basic squash soup to make it a bit more substantial. As a result the soup has drifted in a fashionably Asian fusion direction. The coconut adds a rich nuttiness, the rice gives the soup a nice body. As a nice plus this can easily be a vegan friendly recipe.
Squash Coconut (and sometimes Shrimp) Soup
4-5 pounds of winter squash, butternut is best
1.5 Tablespoons vegetable oil or butter
3 large leeks, just the white parts chopped; or an assortment of alliums equal to the volume of 3 large leeks chopped up. I suggest either staying away from, or being very light handed with the garlic -- it's a bit too aggressive.
1 tsp ground ginger or 1 tablespoon, peeled and chopped fresh ginger. (Fresh ginger is to be preferred -- the flavor is more complex, however ground ginger is more concentrated.
5 cups chicken or vegetable stock and a can of coconut milk
1/4 cup of rice
Optional: 1/2 pound U-50 peeled shrimp (preferrably raw)
salt, pepper, and fish sauce to taste. (I only use the fish sauce if I'm adding shrimp)
Preheat the oven to 350. Halve the squashes, and place cut side down on an oiled pan with sides. Jelly roll pans are a favorite for this operation. Using cookie sheets will result in squash juice running off the sides, burning on the bottom of your oven, and filling your kitchen with smoke. Why on earth would you think this was the voice of experience?
Sauté the leeks in the bottom of a large soup kettle until they are translucent. Add the ginger, chicken stock and the flesh of the roasted squash.
Simmer covered for thirty minutes or an hour, if you are using brown rice. Anyway, until the rice isn't crunchy. Stir occasionally.
Puree the soup. I prefer using an immersion blender for this operation (I've also used a regular blender and a food mill -- both are much messier). If you are putting shrimp in, add them after you puree and return to heat until the shrimp are cooked. Correct the seasonings.
Serve with a dry-ish white wine, buttered toast, and a spinach salad.