In Chinese medicine, keeping the spleen meridian (sometimes now referred to as the spleen-pancreas meridian) warm is essential to good digestion, especially in the colder months. Too much cold food (including drinking cold smoothies in the morning, which is spleen time in the TCM clock) and too much stress can lead to spleen qi deficiency, manifesting with symptoms such as bloating, gas, loose stools, and fatigue. The spleen loves warming foods, and the colour orange nourishes the spleen, so warm and spicy squash soup is an excellent choice to keep the spleen happy (especially during the chillier months)! This recipe also includes some extra hidden veggies that will provide a vitamin boost, without offending the kiddos!
Makes approximately 2L soup.
- 1 Tbsp coconut oil (olive oil may be substituted)
- 1 large onion, diced
- 1 stalk celery, finely diced
- 1 and 1/2 cups carrots, peeled and diced
- 4 cloves garlic, crushed
- 2 tsp. fresh ginger, finely diced
- 2 Tbsp. Thai curry paste (yellow OR red - yellow is more turmeric-y, red is spicier; red was used in pic above)
- 1/8 tsp. ground coriander
- 1 medium-sized kabocha squash, peeled*, pulp removed, cubed (butternut squash may be substituted)
- 1 and 1/2 cups cauliflower, sliced thinly
- 4 kaffir lime leaves (optional)
- 1 L hot water
- 1/2 to 1 tsp. Herbamare, or sea salt (start with 1/2 tsp... add more to taste, if needed)
- 1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
- 1 can full-fat coconut milk (don't worry, it's healthy fat! plus the light stuff is way less satisfying)
--> reserve about 1 Tbsp. coconut milk for garnish!
- juice of half a lime
*For the squash: cutting and peeling raw squash is challenging and precarious - one could easily lose a finger! I make it easier on myself by poking the squash a few times, then baking it in the oven for 20 minutes at 400 C. This allows the skin of the squash to soften, making peeling and cutting the squash much easier.
1) Add coconut oil to a large pot on medium heat. Add onions and allow them to soften for a couple of minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent burning. Add carrots and celery, and allow them to soften for 3 minutes (again, stirring as needed). Add crushed garlic and ginger, and cook for another minute. Add red curry paste and coriander, stirring well to incorporate, and allow the spices to be heated for 30 seconds with constant stirring.
2) Add the diced squash, water, salt, pepper and lime leaves (if using). Bring to a boil, then simmer until the veggies are soft (about 20 minutes).
3) Remove from heat. Remove lime leaves (if using).
4) Blend soup in blender on high speed until creamy (do this in batches).
5) Return soup to pot. Add coconut milk and lime juice. Re-heat until just boiling, stirring well to incorporate the coconut milk.
6) Taste the soup - adjust the salt and pepper as needed. If it is not spicy/curry-ish enough, add more curry paste to taste, whisking it in and bringing it back to the boil. If it is too spicy, add more coconut milk. The soup may also be thinned with a little hot water, if desired.
7) Serve - ladle the soup into your favourite bowl. Garnish with a drizzle of the reserved coconut milk, and swirl it with a few lights strokes of a spoon to make an attractive pattern.
8) Optional: take your soup to the next level of presentation with a drizzle of basil-infused olive oil, a few drops of sriracha, and garnish with any of the following: fresh bean sprouts, cilantro, basil or watercress.
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Did you vary the recipe, with delicious results? Let me know in the comments below.