January is a tough month for many. Quite often, we’re trying to wean ourselves off sugar and alcohol after the festive season, but the weather is cold and miserable and we’re craving sweet comfort food, especially after the initial motivation to get back on track starts to wane. This is where it’s handy to have some nutritious, comforting soup recipes up your sleeve. Ones that you can roll out time and again, that require little work and can be made in large batches.
This recipe was created and demonstrated by the lovely Helen at the last round of Hot Women (Menopause Survival) in Bath last year. It went down very well with the participants who liked the simple recipe, the delicious combination of curry and coconut, and the endless possibilities for tarting it up. Butternut squash can be substituted for sweet potatoes or carrots, chickpeas can be substituted for cannellini or butterbeans etc, herbs can be interchanged and there are a myriad of toppings that can be added for texture. This recipe could easily be adapted into a one pot curry stew; use less stock, add more veggies (red peppers, kale, etc) and perhaps some leftover cooked chicken or white fish.
Here’s the basic recipe.
Curried Butternut Squash Soup
4 tbspns (or more to taste) Curry Paste – home made or bought (I make up a curry paste from the Midlife Kitchen)
750g Butternut squash
400-500ml Coconut milk (from a carton not a tin, e.g. Plenish) and Stock (e.g. Marigold Bouillon), 50/50 mix
1 tin Chickpeas, rinsed
2 handfuls Chopped Spinach
1 handful Chopped Coriander
1 handful Chopped Flat Leaf Parsley
- Pre-roast the butternut squash in advance if you have time. However, if you haven’t got round to this, then peel and cut into small cubes so that it cooks faster.
- Warm a tbspn of coconut or olive oil and add the curry paste. Stirring, cook through until sweet aroma is released and add a couple of tbspns of the coconut milk to thin the mixture.
- Add the butternut squash to the pan, stir the curry paste through it.
- Add the remaining coconut milk and stock. Stir, bring to a light boil and then simmer until the butternut squash is tender (or just until it’s warm if you have already pre-roasted your squash). Add more coconut milk or stock to taste.
- Once cooked, allow to cool slightly and season.
- Blend the soup to the consistency you like, adjust the seasoning as necessary
- Add the chickpeas whole for texture (or if you prefer you can add these earlier and blend them in), spinach, coriander and flat leaf parsley and stir through until wilted.
- Add garnishes such as herbs, toasted coconut chips, toasted nuts and seeds for some texture. If I’m pushed for time, I sometimes top this soup with some of the Graze protein snacks.
So, I hope you enjoy this recipe. It’s a great source of fibre in the pulses, squash, spinach and herbs to support good elimination of toxins and gut health. It contains a decent source of plant protein with the chickpeas and toppings of nuts and seeds (although you can boost this with chicken and fish) Protein is important for blood sugar balance and hormone balance generally, as well as bone health. There are beneficial fats to be found in coconut oil, olive oil, nuts and seeds, which help balance blood sugar, other hormones, and support the optimal functioning of our cells. The curry spices, in particular turmeric will help support liver function and has anti-inflammatory properties. Butternut squash, spinach, fresh herbs and spices are also sources of antioxidants.
Fibre, protein, antioxidants and an anti-inflammatory diet are key to optimal health as we age, and as we seek to support hormone balance. All this from a humble soup!