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Thai Butternut Squash Coconut Noodle Soup

This soup is so good, that people will do anything to get their hands on it. This isn’t an exaggeration – a portion of this beautiful Thai inspired soup destined to be my lunch one afternoon went missing, tub and all, from my office kitchen. To this day we don’t know who ‘soup thief’ is – who, in turn also stole a sandwich at the same time – and I never saw that tub again. It’s all excitement at my work, I tell you.

Before it was stolen, it began life in a large Le Creuset pot, filled with lightly spiced cubes of butternut squash, creamy coconut broth and spindly lengths of vermicelli noodles. Handfuls of not-so-authentic spinach are stirred through right at the last minute, to wither slightly before being ladled into bowls and topped with fresh mint and a twist of black pepper. It’s so simple, warming and full of goodness, that I can almost forgive the soup thief for their crime. If they were after a hug in a bowl, that is indeed what they stole.

Washed Spinach in a Colander

I came across this recipe a few months ago, going through back issues of delicious magazine in search of some new dinner inspiration. The original recipe cites two servings, but I believe you can stretch it to three easily or four for lunch-sized portions. If you eat a gluten free diet, this is a perfect new recipe for you – just ensure you use gluten free stock cubes and that your noodles have been packaged in a gluten-free zone. You can also make it a little more authentic with pak choi leaves, but I like the simplicity of spinach – plus its cheaper. Filling enough to be made on a weeknight for dinner then packaged up for office-based lunches, it’s the perfect way to ensure you have a meal filled with goodness whilst sitting at your desk. I’d probably advise some sort of Ross Geller-inspired ‘my soup!’ sticker on the Tupperware though, just to avoid causing a scene if it does go missing.

 Adapted from delicious. magazine December 2011

 

You Will Need

2 tbsp thai red curry paste

450g butternut squash (around half), diced into 1cm pieces

400g can of full fat coconut milk

400ml vegetable or chicken stock

2 nests or one long sheet of dried vermicelli rice noodles

100g fresh spinach (or two heads of pak choi if you’re feeling authentic, leaves shredded)

Salt and pepper to taste

Mint leaves and cracked black pepper to serve

Vermicelli Rice Noodles

Place a large stock pot over a medium heat and once hot, add the curry paste and fry for a minute. Add the squash cubes and stir to coat with the curry paste, cooking for 2 minutes. Cover the squash with the contents of the coconut milk can and the stock and stir to combine. Simmer for around 20 minutes until the squash is tender.

Stirring Spinach into Thai Butternut Squash Coconut Noodle Soup

With your hands, break the noodles into smaller chunks and add to the soup, stirring to combine and cooking for three minutes. Add the chopped spinach and stir through until wilted. Add salt and pepper to taste then remove from the heat. Ladle the soup into bowls and top with cracked black pepper and mint leaves.

Thai Butternut Squash Coconut Noodle Soup

 

Sometimes we need a little bit of health in our lives. Ok, so I know we’re nearing the end of January already, and many of you are almost at the end of your detoxes (seriously, well done, I raise a glass of red to you) but there’s no need to slow down on the healthy eating. Butternut squash has such a wonderfully creamy texture and slow roasting in olive oil lifts the flavour to a caramelised sweetness. But the healthy properties of this soup don’t stop there. The colour is complimented with carrot, which is full of antioxidants, and with a little hint of warmth through the red chilli, sweetness from the garlic and a zingy squeeze of lemon, this soup will become your pick-me-up staple. Take it to work in a Thermos, pour into a mug and enjoy whilst tackling your dissertation, or make it on a slow Sunday, and enjoy the last remnants of your weekend with a bowl curled up on the sofa.

 

You Will Need

1 Butternut Squash

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 white onion, chopped

2 garlic cloves, finely chopped

½ red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped

1 small carrot, grated

1 ½ pints chicken or vegetable stock

A squeeze of lemon

Salt and pepper to taste

1 teaspoon double cream to serve

 

Preheat the oven to 200oc/180oc fan/Gas Mark 5. On a chopping board, top and tail the butternut squash and then slice in half length ways. Scoop out the seeds with a spoon. Remove the outside skin with a peeler or vegetable knife and discard peelings. Slice the squash and cut into 1cm chunks. Place on a baking tray and drizzle with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil, making sure each piece is coated. Season well and roast in the oven for 40 minutes, turning regularly.

After the squash has been roasting for 20 minutes, heat the remaining oil in a large stockpot over a medium heat. Add the onions and slowly cook for 10 minutes. Add the garlic and chilli and cook for a further minute. Add the carrot, cook for another minute, then pour over the stock and bring to the boil.

Once the squash is tender and beginning to crisp at the edges, remove from the oven and add to the pot. Cook for 5 minutes and then remove from the heat. Using a stick blender, whizz the soup until smooth and no lumps remain. Season with some pepper and a squeeze of lemon juice. Ladle into bowls and serve with a drizzle of double cream and extra black pepper.