Here in the South, autumn means that one day feels like summer and the next is crisp and cool. As such, I love versatile recipes like this that can be served hot or cold, depending on the weather. This butternut soup is creamy and comforting, but still light and fresh. You can pull it together relatively quickly, and it might be even better a day later (good for making ahead)! Fresh lemongrass, ginger, turmeric, and lime give this soup a brightness that’s refreshing hot or cold. And coconut milk keeps this recipe vegan and dairy-free! I’ll be making it ahead of time for dinner parties or freezing quarts of it for later.
This time of year, I’ve been lucky to find fresh lemongrass, ginger, and turmeric at local farmers markets in Atlanta. I’ve also seen them sold in Whole Foods and other specialty or health food markets.
3-4 stalks lemongrass
1 cup diced sweet onion (about 1 small onion)
2 tablespoons oil
2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger (about 1½“ segment)
2 tablespoons minced garlic (about 2 cloves)
1 tablespoon minced fresh turmeric (about 1” segment)
3-pound butternut squash, peeled, seeds removed, and diced (about 7 cups)
1 quart vegetable stock
¾ cup full fat coconut milk + more for garnish
3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
Lime wedges for serving
Prep lemongrass by peeling off dry outer layer(s) and cutting off top, leaving the solid core of the stalk. Cut stalk down into 4-5” segments and bruise with the blunt end of a knife or a meat tenderizer (this helps release the flavor).
Preheat a large pot over medium to medium-high heat for 1-2 minutes. Add oil, onion, and a pinch of salt. Cook, stirring, until onions start to turn translucent, 3-5 minutes. Add ginger, garlic, and turmeric and cook about 1 minute until fragrant. Next, add butternut squash, bruised lemongrass, and stock. Cover and bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for another 10-15 minutes or until squash is tender (it should easily smash against the side of the pot with the back your spoon).
Remove pot from heat and discard lemongrass stalks. Puree soup in the pot with an immersion blender or transfer to a blender to puree (in batches if necessary). Stir in coconut milk and lime juice, then season to taste with salt. If desired, adjust consistency with additional stock, coconut milk, or water, making sure to adjust seasoning after adding liquid. Keep in mind that the soup will thicken if you choose to chill it.
Serve soup hot, or chill in an airtight container and serve cold. Serve with a drizzle of coconut milk over top and a wedge of lime.
You can make the lemongrass easier to remove by tying it up in cheesecloth before adding it to the soup.