Paleo Coconut Butternut Soup

I’m in what I call “exam mode” right now, which involves lots of frantic studying, wearing sweatpants, surfing the web while avoiding studying … you get the idea. Cooking complicated meals isn’t on the agenda. If I’m being healthy, I eat a lot of carrot sticks and yogurts and frozen vegetables heated up and decent takeout options like a salad at Moe’s. If I’m caving in to my cravings, eating involves delivery pizza and Ben and Jerry’s half-baked.
But there are a few dishes worth the time investment even during exam mode, including this butternut squash soup with a coconut base. It keeps well in the fridge for several days or freezes easily. We’ve had a cup here, a bowl there along with a salad or as a companion to a meat dish for Paleo Boy. This soup works well year round, although I associate it with the first cool evenings of early fall. We re-heated it on the grill once on a chilly September evening last year and it absorbed the grill’s smoky flavor and was just phenomenal.

The coconut/butternut mix is really versatile – I have tossed in spices from cilantro to nutmeg to garlic without ever writing down the ingredients and just seeing how it came out. When I cooked the soup last week, though, I wrote down everything I put in so I could share it with you.

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Coconut Butternut Soup

Two medium-sized butternut squash
12 oz. full fat coconut milk
36 oz. water
4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
2 tablespoons fresh cilantro leaves
1 tablespoon honey*
1 teaspoon coriander-based curry powder or coriander

Pierce the butternut squash on two sides with a knife and bake at 300 F for about an hour or until soft. They will peel more easily this way. Peel, scoop out the guts and quarter. If you have an immersion blender, go ahead and chuck the butternut squash into a pan with the water and coconut milk (just use the coconut milk can refilled to measure out the water easily). Add the cilantro leaves and puree until smooth with the immersion blender while starting to warm the pan. If you are using a regular blender, puree the squash and cilantro leaves with some liquid, then pour into a pan with the rest of the liquid. Either way, once the soup is pureed smooth in the pan, add in the spices, stirring. Bring the soup to a simmer and leave it for at least half an hour, stirring occasionally.  Even though the butternut squash is mostly cooked from the oven, you want to let the flavors mingle.

Generously serves 6 to 8.

*If you want to be strict paleo, skip the honey. It just brings out the sweetness of the soup a tiny bit.

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