Roasted Squash Soup with Coconut Milk & Thai Spices

My husband has many nicknames; one of them is The King of Soup. He creates some of his masterpieces himself and for some he follows recipes, and then adds his own twist. On Sunday he made this beautiful squash soup – spicy, velvety, sweet, amazing.
One of the books that he and I reference regularly is called 500 Soups, by Susannah Blake. That is where this recipe comes from.
1 butternut squash, seeded, peeled, and cut into chunks
3 tbsp sunflower oil
2 shallots, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
2 tsp fresh ginger, grated
2 green chillies, seeded and shredded (we used red chillies) (see tip below)
2 lemongrass stalks, chopped (see tip below)
4 kaffir lime leaves, shredded (see tip below)
3 ½ cups vegetable stock
1 ¾ cups coconut milk (we used light coconut milk)
Juice of about 1 lime
1 tbsp fish sauce
Handful of fresh cilantro leaves
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Put the squash in a baking dish, drizzle 1 tbsp of the oil over it, and toss to coat. Roast for about 25 minutes until tender.  If you cut the chunks of squash a little bigger, it will take longer to roast.
Heat the remaining oil in a large saucepan. Add the shallots, garlic and ginger and cook gently for about 3 minutes.  Add the chillies, lemongrass, lime leaves, stock and coconut milk and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat, cover, and simmer for about 20 minutes.
Add the roasted squash to the soup, then stir in the lime juice and fish sauce to taste.
Now here is the King of Soup’s twist on this recipe – take the soup and puree it with a hand blender. Then ladle the pureed soup into a strainer and press the puree through the strainer using the back of the ladle. Do this ladleful by ladleful until all the puree has turned into velvet. (The cookbook recommends serving it as-is, with chunks of squash left whole – we prefer it in its velvety form.)
Portion out into bowls and sprinkle fresh cilantro on top to serve (optional – we didn’t have any when I took this photo). Makes 4 good-sized helpings.
Tip: You can prepare a whole bunch of lemongrass ahead of time and freeze it for later use. You can do the same with the chilies and the lime leaves – just pop them into a ziploc bag and keep them in the freezer. Believe it or not, you can also do this with fresh ginger! When you take it out of the freezer, peel it with a potato peeler and you’re good to go.  For those of you who live around great Asian supermarkets, like T and T, you can buy prepared lemongrass already frozen!

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