I've written about this soup before, but it merits revisiting. Each time I cook it, I find myself on the phone with my mother, or my sister, or a friend, vehemently explaining how good it is, as if they have nothing better to do than drop everything and make soup.
But if they did, and if you do, I promise you'll thank me.
The recipe comes by way of the lovely Kenzi Wilbur at Food52. At first glance, it sounds like an odd combination of flavors: fresh ginger, butternut squash, miso, cayenne pepper. I thought the addition of coconut milk would make it too creamy, or veer too far into exotic-food territory.
But it doesn't. This is serious comfort food, perfect for rainy days and chilly nights where you stare abjectly into the fridge waiting for something hot and delicious and nourishing to appear.
I'm not usually a fan of sweeter soups, like squash or pumpkin, but the heat of the cayenne and the spice of the ginger tame the flavor here. The miso stock is hard to place in the final dish, it just adds a savory complexity to the soup.
Taste the soup after pureeing, before you add the coconut milk. You might find that you prefer it without the coconut, but try it both ways and see. I think the coconut milk adds a lusciousness that makes the soup even more soothing.
A squeeze of lime just before serving brightens up the dish nicely, but isn't necessary. A soft sourdough roll or chunk of warm baguette is also not necessary, but welcome. (Repeat after me: I will never say no to bread.)
Butternut Squash Soup with Miso and Coconut Milk
Adapted from Food52
4 1/4 cups water
4 tablespoons sweet white miso paste
1/2 yellow onion, diced
2 tablespoons freshly grated ginger
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (or more to taste)
3 pounds butternut squash, peeled and cubed
1/2 cup full-fat coconut milk
1 teaspoon kosher salt
In a medium saucepan, bring 4 cups of water to a simmer. In a small bowl, whisk together the remaining 1/4 cup of water with the miso until well-mixed. Add the miso mixture to the simmering water. Whisk to combine, and keep the pot at a simmer but do not let it come to a boil.
In a heavy-bottomed pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the diced onion and cook, stirring, for a few minutes until soft and translucent.
Add the cayenne and ginger to the onion and cook, stirring constantly, for one minute.
Ladle a spoonful of the warm miso stock into the onion pot to deglaze.
Add the cubed butternut squash and then all the remaining miso stock. Season with salt and let simmer for 20-30 minutes, or until the squash is tender.
Puree the soup using an immersion blender, or carefully in a food processor (it will be hot so use caution!).
Once pureed, stir in the coconut milk.
Serve hot -- a squeeze of lime or apple cider vinegar is a nice finishing touch.