|Delicious and can-be-vegan Slow Cooker Butternut Squash and Peanut Thai-Inspired Soup with Red Bell Pepper and Cilantro is also gluten-free.|
There's a good reason why there are so many butternut squash soup recipes, and personally I think it's about the way the slightly nutty flavor of butternut squash gets along well with so many other flavors. In this soup, the cubed squash cooks in the slow cooker in a little vegetable stock until it's soft and then it's pureed and cooked a little longer with onion, garlic, ginger, Coconut milk, Thai Red Curry Paste, and peanut butter, with a tiny touch of fish sauce (or vegan "fish sauce") and brown sugar to complete the Thai flavor notes. Even though I adore butternut squash, I haven't used it in soup that much, but this soup is one I'll be making over and over again.
Of course, this slightly spicy butternut squash soup is my Meatless Monday recipe for the week. I love it when I can find a recipe that really knocks my socks off that can easily be vegan, and this is one of those recipes. (To make this vegan, use vegan "fish sauce" link in recipe or sub soy sauce.) And my nephew and cooking assistant Jake is not a winter squash fan, but he gobbled up the soup. We adapted this recipe from one we spotted in Cooking Light, but we changed many things about the recipe, including using a slow cooker, starting with fresh squash, and adding peanut butter. (You can find more meatless recipes by using the label Meatless Monday or checking Vegetarian Recipes in the recipe index. I'm also doing a meatless slow cooker recipe each Monday on Slow Cooker from Scratch. For more Meatless Monday ideas from other bloggers, follow our Meatless Monday board on Pinterest, or check Meatless Monday at BlogHer.)
I'm not normally a fan of the pre-cut butternut squash (and I even wrote a post about How to Peel and Cut Up a Butternut Squash.) But for soup like this, the pre-cut squash is fine and it will help get this into the slow cooker much more quickly.
Put 2 lbs. of butternut squash cubes into the slow cooker with 1 cup vegetable stock, season with salt and pepper, and cook on high for 2 hours, or until the squash is soft.
Use a food processor, blender, or Immersion Blenderto puree the squash. (An immersion blender is by far the easiest; be careful with the hot squash if you use a food processor or blender.)
Then add the coconut milk, Thai Red Curry Paste, and peanut butter, and heat, stirring, just until the peanut butter and curry paste are dissolved into the coconut milk. Add the sweetener and fish sauce.
Stir the coconut milk mixture into the squash, turn the slow cooker to low, and cook about one hour.
Then stir in the chopped cilantro and lime juice and cook about 15 minutes more. Serve hot, garnished with chopped peanuts and more chopped cilantro if desired.
(Makes about 8 servings; recipe adapted from a soup recipe we spotted in Cooking Light, but we changed it quite a bit.)
You need about a 5-Quart Slow Cooker for this recipe, although it can be slightly smaller.
2 lbs. peeled and cubed butternut squash
1 cup vegetable stock (vegetable broth in a can is fine)
salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste
2 tsp. olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
2 tsp. minced garlic (minced garlic from a jar is fine)
1 tsp. minced ginger root (pureed ginger from a jar is fine)
1 red bell pepper, seeds removed and finely chopped
1 can (14 oz.) light Thai Coconut Milk
2 T Thai Red Curry Paste
1/2 cup natural peanut butter (without added sugar)
1 T brown sugar, Stevia in the Raw granulated sweetener, or Splenda (use Stevia or Splenda for South Beach Diet)
2 tsp. Fish Sauce (use vegan "fish sauce" for vegan version, or replace with soy sauce if you're not a fan of fish sauce)
2 T fresh-squeezed lime juice
1/3 cup finely chopped cilantro
extra chopped cilantro and chopped peanuts for serving (optional)
Sriracha Rooster Sauce for serving (optional)
Peel the butternut squash and cut into cubes if you're starting with a whole squash. (Here's How to Peel and Cut Up a Butternut Squash if you haven't done it.) Put the squash cubes and vegetable stock into the slow cooker, season squash generously with salt and fresh-ground black pepper, and cook on high for 2 hours, or until the squash is soft enough to mash easily. When it's soft, use a food processor, blender, or Immersion Blender to puree the squash, being careful with the hot food.
Heat the oil in a large non-stick frying pan, add onion and saute until well-browned, about 8 minutes. Add the minced garlic, minced ginger, and diced red bell pepper and saute about a minute more. Then add the coconut milk, Thai Red Curry Paste, and peanut butter and heat just until the curry paste and peanut butter is melted into the coconut milk. Add the sweetener and fish sauce.
Stir the coconut milk mixture into the pureed squash, turn slow cooker to low and cook for 1 hour more. Stir in the chopped cilantro and fresh lime juice and cook about 15 minutes more. Serve hot, garnished with more chopped cilantro and chopped peanuts if desired. If you'd like more heat, shake in a little Sriracha Sauce.
I am assuming this freezes well. (I have some in the freezer but haven't thawed it yet.)
South Beach Suggestions:
Butternut squash is limited to Phase 2 or 3 of the South Beach Diet, and if you're making this soup for South Beach be sure to use light coconut milk, natural peanut butter, and use Stevia or Splenda for the sweetener.
I chose the South Beach Diet to manage my weight partly so I wouldn't have to count calories, carbs, points, or fat grams, but if you want nutritional information for a recipe, I recommend entering the recipe into Calorie Count, which will calculate it for you.
More Meatless Soups You Might Like:
(Recipes from other blogs not always South Beach Diet friendly; check ingredients.)
Veggie Pot Pie Soup ~ Cheeky Kitchen
Indian-Spiced Slow Cooker Red Lentil Soup with Spinach and Coconut Milk ~ Kalyn's Kitchen
Yellow Split Pea Soup with Sweet Potatoes and Kale ~ Fat Free Vegan Kitchen
Autumn Harvest Soup with Butternut Squash, Kale, and Farro ~ Kalyn's Kitchen
Vegetarian Navy Bean and Kale Soup ~ Chick in the Kitchen
(Want even more recipes? I find these recipes from other blogs using Food Blog Search.)
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