Looking for a fresh option for lunch? This is an ideal fall and winter soup: creamy without being heavy (and without cream!), bright, and packing an unexpected and zesty lemongrass flavor.
This is the recipe to have on hand when you feel like making soup, but actually want to be eating it 30 minutes later. It comes together incredibly quickly and combines rich squash with a crunchy garnish.
The lemongrass flavor comes through bright and clear, with a little help from the ginger. It's a creamy soup to ward off the late-winter blues.
This recipe in its original incarnation at Gourmet called for corn as well as squash, but we leave it out here (I felt it might be too sweet for my taste). I also added a bit of extra flavor with garlic and fresh ginger, and by using broth instead of water.
The result is indeed a very quick and easy soup, since the squash cooks there in the broth (no need to roast it ahead of time). The pepitas are spicy and a wonderful crunchy garnish to a smooth, velvety soup.
Squash & Lemongrass Soup with Spiced Pumpkin Seeds
Makes 5 1-cup servings
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 fresh lemongrass stalk, split down the middle and outer layer discarded
1 large onion, chopped
2 large garlic cloves, minced
1 inch fresh ginger, peeled and finely chopped, about 2 teaspoons
2 pounds butternut squash (about one small to medium squash), peeled, seeded and cut into 1-inch pieces (3 1/2 to 4 cups)
4 cups vegetable or chicken broth
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Fresh cilantro leaves, to serve
For the spiced pumpkin seeds:
1 cup raw green pumpkin seeds (pepitas)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon garlic salt or smoked salt
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon coriander
1/2 teaspoon paprika
Melt the butter and oil in a Dutch oven or heavy pot set over medium heat. When hot, add lemongrass, onion, garlic, and ginger. Cook until onion has softened, about 6 to 8 minutes. Add the squash and stir until it's well coated with the fat and aromatics. Pour in the broth and add the chili powder, salt, and a generous quantity of black pepper.
Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, partially covered, until the squash is tender — about 10 to 15 minutes. Remove from heat.
Remove and discard the lemongrass. Puree the soup in a blender in small batches, being careful to hold down the lid with a folded towel. Taste and add additional salt and pepper if necessary. Serve sprinkled with spiced pumpkin seeds.
To make the pumpkin seeds: Preheat the oven to 350°F. Toss the seeds with the olive oil and spices. Spread onto a sheet pan and bake until toasted, about 10 minutes. Cooled pumpkin seeds can be stored in an airtight container for up to 4 weeks.