This Curried Coconut Squash Soup is incredible, and perfect for fall! I love the twist of adding both curry and coconut to this classic butternut squash soup, which really gives it a nice balance of sweet, spicy, and savoury flavours. To top this off, it’s also suitable for those of you following Vegan, Vegetarian, Lactose Free, Gluten Free, Paleo, and Clean Eating Diets.
The primary ingredients to this soup are butternut squash and coconut milk/water. The coconut milk (being the liquid expressed from coconut meat and water) contains three nutrients worth noting: Polyunsaturated Fat, Saturated Fat and Manganese. On top of this, the butternut squash is a nutrient powerhouse! It has an almost complete protein profile, a ton of Vitamin A, and is a good source of Vitamin C, Vitamin B6, Thiamin, Niacin, Folate, Potassium, and Manganese. Clearly butternut squash covers way more than I can address in a single post, so I have focused on the roles of Polyunsaturated Fat, Saturated Fat, Manganese, and Vitamin A, and why consuming enough of these nutrients is important for maintaining your overall health.
Polyunsaturated fats (including Omega-3’s, 6’s, and 9’s) help to lower your overall blood triglyceride levels (this is the amount of fat found in your blood) and your LDL (bad) cholesterol. They also help in maintaining brain cell function, nerve function, and overall cell health throughout your body. This is done by providing essential nutrients to these cells. Furthermore, some of these fats cannot be made by the human body and must be consumed via one’s diet, such as Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids. Conveniently 1 oz. (28g) of coconut milk contains nearly 1g of Omega-6 fat, which is specifically associated with maintaining blood sugar and blood pressure levels.
There’s a lot of controversy here, and I’m sure you’ve heard at least one of these arguments before: that saturated fat is terrible for your cardiac health and will clog your arteries, or that it’s truly good for you and important to maintain healthy skin, nerves, and your brain cells. I’m not going to take this up right now though, because both sides have some merit, but despite this, saturated fat should still be consumed with moderation.
In fact, the current recommendation is that less than 13 – 20g of saturated fat should be consumed each day (depending on which guidelines/recommendations you’re looking at). Conveniently, this soup fits this recommendation, since there are 5.9g of saturated fat in 1 oz. (28g) of coconut milk, or 11g of saturated fat per serving of this squash soup. This might seem high to some of you, since this is roughly 60% – 85% of your recommended daily intake of saturated fat, so if you’re concerned about this, try using coconut water instead of home made coconut milk.
Store bought coconut water tends to contain about 0.4g of saturated fat per 100ml or less, or in the case of this soup, 0.25g per serving. With this significant difference in saturated fat content of the soup, also comes a slight flavour difference. I personally prefer to make my own coconut milk, but if I’m in a hurry, I will use coconut water. Coconut water tends to give this soup a strong fresh coconut flavour, with a bit of tartness, whereas the coconut milk tends to give the soup a creamy and rich flavour. I’ll leave it up to you to decide which option you like best – either way, the soup is delicious!
This is an interesting micronutrient and mineral required by the human body, since we truly only need a tiny amount of it each day. The current Canadian recommended daily intake for manganese is 2mg/day. A 100g serving of butternut squash contains about 0.2mg, 0r 10% of your daily value. Therefore this butternut squash soup contains roughly 0.6mg per serving or 30% of your daily requirement. The purpose of manganese is not fully understood, but it has been determined to play a role in bone formation and collagen formation. Collagen synthesis is important for maintaining healthy and young looking skin. On top of this, manganese has also been identified as an antioxidant, helping to reduce oxygen induced cell damage throughout the body. It’s amazing how such a small amount of manganese can play such a huge role in your body!
Butternut squash is orange, just like a carrot, meaning it contains the pigment Beta-Carotene, which the human body uses to create retinol, also known as Vitamin A. We’ve all heard that we should eat our carrots to maintain our eyesight, and this remains true for butternut squash, because of its Vitamin A content. What’s really great about this squash, is that a 100g serving of it contains over 200% of your daily recommended intake of Vitamin A. However, most people rarely consume this vitamin or pigment on a daily basis, so our bodies have developed a way of storing it – by making it a fat soluble vitamin. So don’t worry about consuming 200% of what you need in a day, since all that extra will be stored away in existing fat cells to use it later on! (The other fat soluble vitamins are vitamins D, E, and K).
So while the Vitamin A content of butternut squash is incredible, that doesn’t really explain why you need it – but that age old advice of eating your carrots to maintain your eyes is definitely true. Vitamin A is key in maintaining the cell health of your eyes, especially your retinas (notice the similarity to the word retinol?). It also acts as an antioxidant, reducing oxygen induced cell damage.
Last but not least, retinol has been used in the development of retinoids, which are medications often used for the treatment of acne and other skin imperfections. This is because Vitamin A was found to play a huge role in forming collagen and maintaining healthy looking skin, so scientists decided to see how supplemental forms and variations of it might affect skin health, leading to the development of retinoids.
Overall, this Curried Coconut Squash Soup has some great flavours and an incredible nutrient profile! Try it for yourself and let me know what you think in the comments below!
If you’re interested in learning more about any one of the nutrients talked about above, please check the LEARN tab for in depth articles about specific nutrients, or try the search bar above. If you can’t find what you’re looking for, please feel free to request that information via the comments section below, or by contacting me at CaitieSarah@gmail.com
Curried Coconut Squash Soup
Active: 30 Minutes
Total Time: 1 Hour 15 Minutes
- 4-5 lb Butternut Squash, diced (about two small squash)
- 4 Carrots, diced
- 2 Onions, diced
- 6 Cups of Vegetable or Chicken Broth
- 2 Cups of Shredded Unsweetened Coconut (or 2 Cups of Coconut Water)
- 1/4 Cup Butter, EVOO or Coconut Oil
- 2 Tbsp Curry Powder
- 1/2 Tsp Smoked Paprika
- 1/2 to 1 Tsp Crushed Red Pepper Flakes (to taste)
- [If using coconut water instead of shredded coconut, proceed to step 2.] Prepare the coconut milk, by pouring two cups of boiling water over the shredded coconut in a heat-safe bowl. Let sit for a minimum of 10 minutes at room temperature. Strain the mixture either through a fine sieve, or 4 layers of cheesecloth into another bowl and set the coconut milk aside. Discard the pulp and cheesecloth.
- Melt 2 Tbsp of butter, or heat the oil, in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add onion and carrot, and cook until softened (but not browned) about 3 minutes.
- Turn the heat down to medium-low. Add remaining butter or oil and the butternut squash, curry, smoked paprika, and red pepper flakes and cook until the squash begins to soften, about 5 – 7 minutes.
- Pour soup stock and coconut milk or water into the pot. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce heat to low and simmer for 35 – 45 minutes.
- Remove from heat, and cool slightly. Puree using an immersion blender until smooth.
- Serve and enjoy!