It’s Pressure Cooker Season and if you are like me, that means that your Instant Pot, or Foodi or Chef iQ smart cooker is living on your kitchen counter. And, I’ve got a new reason for you to use it.
I’ve combined my favorite winter squash hack with the pressure cooker to make the best butternut squash soup ever. If you think you have butternut squash fatigue, try one more recipe. Chances are this soup will be your easiest and your tastiest one yet.
But first you must learn the winter squash hack. Do you love to eat hard winter squash, but hate to cut it? Winter squash like Butternut, Acorn, Spaghetti, Hubbard and Kabocha are large, dense, hard-skinned and irregularly shaped, making them difficult to both peel and cut with the average chef’s knife. The wobbly nature of the squash adds a high risk of cutting yourself with the knife. It’s definitely a cook’s challenge.
A few years ago, my sister Mary Pat and I were discussing this subject and I decided to see what would happen if I tossed the squash in the oven with absolutely no prep. I placed the squash directly on the middle oven shelf and placed foil on the lower shelf (under the squash) to catch any drippings. The result was a tender roasted squash with a concentrated squash flavor. No water diluting the meat of the squash and no tough knife work. Best of all, the peel separated easily from the flesh and the seeds were quickly scooped out with a spoon.
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Once I had the roasted pulp, I used it to make miso squash mash, spaghetti squash Bolognese, etc. I have kept this roasted squash on rotation in my kitchen, and I have been happy with the simple ways that I’ve used it. It didn’t occur to me to do anything else with it until just before Thanksgiving this year. I had an excess of butternut squash and I was tired of “miso mash”. I decided to experiment with roasting the squash in the oven and using the pulp to make soup in my pressure cooker. Since it was an experiment, I wanted the recipe to be as easy as possible—to see if the technique would work—but flavorful enough that if it did work, I would be rewarded with delicious butternut squash soup.
I sautéed onions in olive oil in the bottom of my non-stick pressure cooker pot and added the squash. Next, I added chicken stock—but you could use beef or vegetable stock, whatever you like—and white wine. The wine is an important ingredient as it adds a depth of flavor. I added kosher salt, pepper and some Madras curry powder to season the soup. A quick pressure cook on high for 4-5 minutes and your soup is almost done. Once the pressure is released, you use an immersion blender to make the texture smooth.
Because you are using a hand blender in the non-stick pot, I recommend the Chefman immersion blender with a plastic blade guard. I used a stainless-steel immersion blender the first time that I made the soup, and it scratched my pot. Once I found out about the heat-resistant plastic blade guard, I haven’t used any other immersion blender. It is also very powerful, dishwasher safe and reasonably priced. It’s at the top of my list for favorite kitchen gadgets of the last year.
Once the soup is pureed, add a can of full-fat coconut milk and ¼ teaspoon more of the Madras curry powder and stir well. The soup is now ready to eat. I love to serve it in a wide soup mug like the one pictured above garnished with untoasted green pumpkin seeds. The seeds add a welcome texture to the otherwise smooth-as-silk soup, but you could also garnish the soup with crunchy croutons or toasted coconut as well.
Butternut Coconut Curry Soup
This golden butternut squash soup is both silky and satisfying. The texture comes from roasting the squash in the oven and finishing the soup in a pressure cooker. The intense butternut squash flavor comes from roasting the squash whole, so the flavor isn’t diluted from cooking in water. The coconut milk and the Madras curry powder compliment the squash in a subtle and totally seamless way. It’s a nice change of flavor from Butternut squash and sage.
Makes about 10 cups
4 ½ cups or 2 pounds, 5 ounces roasted butternut squash from 1 large or 2 medium butternut squash
12 ounces or 2 2/3 cups chopped white onions
2 ½ cups stock, can use beef, chicken or vegetable
1 cup white wine
1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt
¼ teaspoon ground white pepper
3/4 teaspoon Madras curry powder, divided
1 13.5 ounce can of unsweetened coconut milk, not lite
Pumpkin seeds, croutons or toasted coconut for garnish
Roast squash whole in the oven.
Rinse the whole squash, put it directly on the oven shelf [in the middle of the oven] and bake the squash for 1-2 hours in a pre-heated 350°F oven. Don’t prick the squash or score it or do anything to it but rinse it and toss it on the shelf. After an hour or more if the squash is very large, turn off the heat and let the squash continue baking in the residual heat for 30 minutes. Since squash varies in size, you will need to adjust the timing accordingly. The 30-minute residual cooking isn’t necessary with a smaller squash.
You can tell if it is done if a small thin knife sticks into the squash as easily as room temperature butter. But do not over-cook the squash, you want the squash to retain its shape, and not collapse on itself.
When the resting time is up, the squash should be very soft. So soft, that you can cut it in half lengthwise, very easily. Remove the seeds by scooping out with a spoon. They are easier to remove once they are cooked because the fibers are no longer holding onto them.
Note: Use this technique for all hard winter squash. Once you have the squash baked, the skin peels off in wide pieces, and you can mash it (or rake spaghetti squash into strands) with a fork. And, incidentally, there is something about roasting the squash without opening it that makes a silkier texture and a cleaner and more intense flavor. You can store the squash at this point for two days in the refrigerator if you aren’t ready to make the soup.
Continue Making the Soup in a Pressure Cooker: In a pressure cooker, sauté the onions and enough olive oil to coat the bottom of the pot for 16 minutes on a low sauté setting. Add the cooked butternut squash. Stir together. Add the stock, wine, salt, pepper and ½ teaspoon of curry powder. Set on high pressure cook for 4 minutes.
When the soup is done, clean any residue off the lid and sides, and puree using an immersion blender. Add the coconut milk and the reserved ¼ teaspoon of curry powder. Stir well or pulse with the immersion blender, and serve garnished with pumpkin seeds.