It probably seems crazy to most Americans to down a hot bowl of soup right now. This soup makes more sense to me because temperatures on the central coast just haven’t risen much at all. Next time it hits lower temperatures this soup would be perfect to enjoy on a cooler day. Better yet, you could wait until late summer or Fall when the squash actually comes into season. If you are craving roasted butternut squash like me, there’s no time like the present for a good soup.
I chose to make this soup with a few of the great flavors from Thai cooking–coconut milk, red chili paste, and a mixture of fragrant spices. I roasted the butternut squash first in the oven and threw all the ingredients into a big soup pot to simmer. The soup had a lot of wonderful flavors. I loved the flavor of the roasted squash with the creamy coconut milk, spicy chilies, and thai spices. It was pretty simple to throw together and I couldn’t be more happy with how it turned out! I served it with a side of jasmine rice and ended up mixing a few tablespoons of the rice into the soup. It turned out to be a great combination!
Massaman curry is a Thai dish that is influenced by Indian spices. It can be made with beef, chicken or tofu but I settled on trying the chicken version. I had this dish once at a Thai restaurant in Chicago and I have been dreaming about making it at home for a while. This recipe turned out to be quite similar to the restaurant’s and I was really happy about that! Massaman curry is a stew made with coconut milk, potatoes and served with rice. I tried to make this as authentic as possible so I avoided substitutions the best I could. The spicy and sweet flavors of this curry perfectly blended together and the finished product was really tasty! Feel free to substitute the protein for tofu, beef or pork.
One of the most important steps in making Thai dishes is preparing the chili paste. The paste is a concentrate of aromatic ingredients that provides a lot of flavor for the dish. There are many variations of chili pastes but this particular one is used in Massaman Curry. It could be used in a variety of dishes as well, not just for Massaman Curry. If you have a food processor making it would be easy, but without one it will take some time to prep. You can find the paste in stores but it goes without saying that it won’t have the same amount of flavor and freshness that making it from scratch provides. It can be tough to find the authentic ingredients but if you live near or in a city there is likely a Thai or Asian market that can provide some of the harder to find ingredients.
My favorite part of making this was roasting it for a few minutes in a pan. By heating it up the flavors were released into the air and the whole kitchen smelled so good! It’s an important step since it intensifies the flavor of the paste as well. The result was a really versatile concentrate of flavors that can be used in a ton of different Thai foods. It should last for a week or two in a sterilized jar in the refrigerator.
Soups and curries are two of my favorite things and I knew I had to give this recipe a try. The flavors remind me a lot of Thai curries since the soup’s base is coconut milk. I used an Indian Garam Masala with Turmeric to give it a spicy, aromatic flavor. I toasted the spices with a few arbol chilies and ground them all together. The soup was really easy to make and all it really requires is a few hours for the ingredients to cook together. The result was a delicious and filling soup with nice coconut and curry flavors. The soup is surprisingly filling due to the rich broth and the high protein foods like chickpeas and lentils. I garnished a bowl with a drop of coconut milk, cilantro and sliced jalapeno. Plain yogurt would work great as a garnish as well. The soup goes well with rice, couscous, quinoa, or bread.
Pad Thai is a dish made with stir-fried rice noodles with egg, a sauce, a protein like shrimp or chicken, and other extras like bean sprouts, and peanuts. I have had my eye on this little Thai market in the neighborhood and I went in today to see what I could find. I discovered that unlike Vons, the check out lady knew exactly where the Tamarind paste was. I could have substituted the harder to find ingredients (galangal, palm sugar, etc) for brown sugar and ginger but I decided not to. I’m happy with that decision because I can work with a new set of flavors now.
The Pad Thai turned out really nicely too. It wasn’t as rich or sweet as restaurant Pad Thai. It had a nice balance of sour, sweet, and spicy. I took note from other bloggers and prepped everything before cooking the noodles. I now understand how easy it would be to burn the noodles while you run around looking for an egg. This dish does take some work but is well worth the effort.