Do you want a soup that’s warm and comforting, healthy, and suits the needs of a lot of people because it’s vegetarian/vegan and gluten-free but still tastes delicious? I’ve got you covered with this Spicy Coconut Lemongrass Squash Soup that is so versatile and yummy that you’ll make it over and over again. There are a lot of little tips and details about this one so please be sure to read all the notes below so you can really make it your own.
I have a lot of soup recipes up on the blog but I have to say this is one of my favorites. The vibrant ginger, lemongrass and garlic offer a fragrant base while butternut squash lends and sweetness and white beans provide texture and protein, as well. Coconut milk and jalapeno play well together to create a SouthEast Asian/Thai-inspired dish. When you garnish this soup with fresh lime juice and zest and cilantro – plus even more jalapeno if you love spice – you’ve got a really complete, balanced dish to serve to your family and friends.
Years ago, a dear friend gave me a copy of the Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone book by Deborah Madison. It is a wonderful vegetarian nutrition cookbook filled with recipes for every imaginable veggie. In this cooler weather, I was searching for a warming soup with rich flavor and stumbled upon a similar soup she has in the book. Perfect! I made some adjustments like adding beans for more protein and created this delicious Spicy Coconut Lemongrass Squash Soup of my own, but using hers as the inspiration. I’d love to know in the comments what some of your favorite go-to cookbooks are.
Making the Spicy Coconut Lemongrass Squash Soup
The first thing you do here is create a flavorful broth base in a pot by combining the vegetable stock, lemongrass and ginger and simmering it so the flavors mingle while you prep the rest of the ingredients.
One challenge with this recipe is: where do you find lemongrass? I live in a neighborhood with large Vietnamese population so there are many international grocery stores. I was also able to find a stalk in the local PCC Co-Op market. When in doubt – or in the dead of winter – I use dried herbs if I need to. Here’s a breakdown of fresh vs. dried lemongrass but again, sometimes you have to just do the best you can. Lemongrass offers some health benefits, like many herbs and spices. Traditionally, is has been used for treating digestive tract spasms including stomachache and vomiting, for lowering high blood pressure, and cough, achy joints, and fever associated with the common cold. I can’t think of a better ingredient to use in the winter. Make sure to remove the tough, woody exterior to get to the soft part which you’ll chop and use.
While the broth flavors mingle, get your soup pot out and heat up the coconut oil so you can add the onion, garlic, jalapeno and all that squash. Honestly, using frozen squash will make your life so much easier but of course, that includes some packaging so if you’re up for chopping your own, a medium to large squash should be the perfect amount. Cook this for about 10 minutes but you may need to go longer; up to 15 depending on how your squash is cooking and if it’s getting soft.
When your veggies have softened, pour the fragrant broth over them and continue to cook that so they’ll soften even more and the flavors will develop. Once you’ve simmered it for about 20 minutes, add in your canned beans (you’re free to make your own but I’m all about the canned these days) and the coconut milk. Heat those just until they’re simmering again – a couple minutes and then you’re ready to blend. I do use reduced fat coconut because I monitor the saturated fat intake for my family but if you want to use full-fat, feel completely free to do that.
For the blending, I use my immersion blender and that works perfectly. You really want the beans and squash and the lemongrass to get incorporated so the soup is think and smooth. You could easily use a standup blender as well but that’s just a little bit messier. Up to you!
One of the most important things about this soup to me is the garnish. Lime zest and juice adds that acidity and brightness at the end that really brings it all together. If you’ve got tiny little hard limes, consider bumping up the quantity to two or even three. But if you’ve got a large, juicy one, you may end up only zesting about half of it. Make sure to top it with fresh cilantro leaves and even more jalapeno if you want that spice.
If you’re into soup, I’ve got a bunch up on the blog that you’ll love. Check out my potato and corn chowder, super simple minestrone, three bean chili and creamy vegan white bean soup. Leave me a message and tell me when you try them!
Spicy Coconut Lemongrass Squash Soup
- 32 fl oz vegetable stock
- 2 lemongrass stalks, inner soft part minced
- 1 tablespoon grated ginger
- 1 tablespoon coconut oil
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/2 yellow onion, diced
- 5 cups chopped butternut squash try frozen to save time
- 1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and diced
- 1 15 oz can white beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 13.5 oz can unsweetened coconut milk I used a "light" version
- 2 limes, zested and juiced with seeds removed
- 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
- In a large pot, combine vegetable stock, lemongrass and ginger over medium heat. Allow to simmer while you prepare the other ingredients and execute the next step.
- In a soup pot, heat coconut oil over medium heat then add garlic, onion, butternut squash and jalapeno pepper. Saute until soft, or about 10 minutes.
- Add the stock to the vegetable mixture, cover and bring to a boil. Turn the heat down to medium and simmer for 20 minutes. Add the beans and salt then add coconut milk, cooking for another 2 minutes until they're incorporated and hot. Use an immersion blender to puree the beans to achieve a creamy texture.
- Add the lime zest and juice at the end to brighten the flavor and serve hot with cilantro and additional jalapeno if desired.
Ginger Hultin,MS, RD, CSO
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