A curried squash soup recipe for a 20-minute, pantry-friendly dinner

Curried Squash Soup

Total time:20 mins

Servings:4 (makes about 7 cups)

Total time:20 mins

Servings:4 (makes about 7 cups)


If you’re like me, as you are planning your Thanksgiving or Christmas meal, you’re already dreaming about what you’ll make with the leftovers.

Keep this recipe handy if you think you’ll have cans of pureed pumpkin lurking in the pantry or pans of roasted squash or even roasted or smashed sweet potatoes in the refrigerator. If you do, this soup can be on the table in about 20 minutes.

The first time I made this recipe, I made it just the way Hari Ghotra describes it in her cookbook “Indian for Everyone.” I roasted butternut squash with pats of butter, scooped them and followed the recipe. I ended up with a delicious bowl of soup, but with the roasting time, it took me almost an hour.

Then, in recent weeks, after we tested and photographed our way through Aaron Hutcherson’s 20-ingredient Thanksgiving menu and Daniela Galarza’s pecan and pumpkin pies, I realized that I had a few cans of pureed pumpkin left over. I was about to put them on the pantry shelf but then remembered that Ghotra, whose cookbook is filled with great tips and shortcuts, said this soup recipe worked well with pumpkin, too. Why wouldn’t it?

So I whipped up another batch of the soup — this time using the canned stuff. It worked just as well. (If you’re using squash you seasoned and roasted, you may not need to add salt to your soup, but with canned pumpkin, you should finish it, taste it and decide if it needs a bit.)

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The puree gets a flavor boost from the short list of ingredients. The soup calls for cumin seeds bloomed in a little oil as well as sauteed garlic and onion. The naturally sweet squashes are complemented by the slight tinge of heat from chopped fresh chiles and ginger, too. It’s finished with coconut cream and a sprinkling of finely chopped red chiles. (If you prefer less spice, you could use a red bell pepper in place of a fresh chile.)

Five ways to use canned pumpkin puree that have nothing to do with pie

If you have time, the beauty of making the soup with fresh butternut squash is that you get a touch richer finish from the roasted vegetable — and you can turn the seeds into a crunchy topping for your soup or just a little cook’s treat to snack on. I left a note about how to do that below.

But for a fast dinner, reach for those cans, especially if you have pumpkin puree left over or find the cans on sale after the holiday.

NOTE: If using fresh butternut squash in place of the pumpkin, position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees. Quarter one 3-pound squash lengthwise, remove the seeds and place the squash cut sides up on a rimmed baking sheet. Lightly sprinkle it with salt and pepper. Add 1 teaspoon of butter to each. Roast for 35 to 40 minutes, or until soft when pierced with a knife. Scrape the squash out of the skin, stir it into the onions and proceed as directed in the recipe.

Discard the squash seeds or turn them into a snack or a spiced topper for your soup: Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees. Remove the seeds from the squash, rinse thoroughly to remove any lingering squash and dry well. Transfer the seeds to a rimmed baking sheet, drizzle with 2 teaspoons of olive oil and, using your hands, mix until coated. Season with 1 teaspoon each of salt and crushed red pepper flakes and lightly toss to combine. Spread the seeds in a single layer and toast in the oven for about 10 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove from the oven and let cool completely. Store in an airtight container for up to 1 week.

Storage: Refrigerate the soup for up to 4 days.

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  • 2 teaspoons neutral oil, such as vegetable
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 small red onion (about 4 ounces), sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced or finely grated
  • One (1-inch) piece fresh ginger, minced or finely grated
  • 2 fresh red chiles, such as Thai, minced, plus more for serving, if desired
  • Three (15-ounce) cans pureed pumpkin (see NOTE)
  • 2 cups no-salt-added chicken broth or water
  • 4 tablespoons coconut cream, plus more for serving (may substitute with heavy cream or crème fraîche)
  • Fine salt (optional)
  • Naan, toasted, for serving

In a large saucepan over medium heat, combine the oil and cumin seeds, stirring until the cumin is fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the onion and gently cook until soft, stirring occasionally, about 3 minutes.

Stir in the garlic, ginger and chiles and cook until the onions begin to brown slightly and the chiles wilt, about 5 minutes. Stir in the pureed pumpkin until well combined. Add the broth and cook until the soup is hot, about 5 minutes.

Using an immersion blender, puree the soup until smooth and thick. Pour in the coconut cream and stir to combine. If the soup is too thick, add a little hot water, a few tablespoons at a time, until it reaches the desired consistency. Taste and add salt, if desired.

Ladle the soup into bowls and top each with a swirl of coconut cream and a sprinkle of chopped chiles if desired. Serve with crisp naan.

Per serving (1 3/4 cups soup made with pumpkin)

Calories: 225; Total Fat: 7 g; Saturated Fat: 4 g; Cholesterol: 3 mg; Sodium: 52 mg; Carbohydrates: 41 g; Dietary Fiber: 10 g; Sugar: 23 g; Protein: 6 g

This analysis is an estimate based on available ingredients and this preparation. It should not substitute for a dietitian’s or nutritionist’s advice.

Adapted from “Indian for Everyone” by Hari Ghotra (Fair Winds/Quarto, 2022).

Tested by Ann Maloney; email questions to [email protected].

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