This hearty, spicy winter squash soup can be made right in the squash itself and ladled out into bowls at the table, with no need for a serving dish. The flesh of the long-cooked squash gives it a robust texture, and the coconut milk adds richness. You can try this with other winter squash soups as well.
• 1 round, somewhat-flat squash, such as ‘Buttercup’ (about 4 pounds)
• 2 cups chopped leeks, white and pale green parts only
• 2 tbsp butter
• Pinch of salt
• 1 tbsp Thai red curry paste
• 1-1/2 cups chicken broth
• 1 can unsweetened coconut milk (11 ounces)
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
2. With a sturdy knife, carefully cut a circle in the top of the squash as if you were making a Halloween pumpkin. Make the hole wide enough to accommodate your ladle. Discard the stem and lid, remove the seeds from the squash and set the squash aside in an oiled baking dish or ovenproof glass pie plate to catch any drips or leaks during baking.
3. Chop the leeks coarsely and sauté over medium heat in a large skillet with the butter and a pinch of salt for 10 minutes, or until the leeks are tender and translucent but not browned. Add the curry paste and stir until well-mixed.
4. Bring the chicken broth to a simmer in a saucepan and add 1 cup of it to the leeks; set the rest aside. Pour the leek mixture into the squash. In another pan, bring the coconut milk to a simmer and stir until the thick and thin parts have mixed. Pour into the squash and stir gently. If there is room, add the rest of the chicken broth as well. The liquid should rise no higher than a half-inch below the top of the squash.
5. Place the squash in the oven and bake for about an hour or until the flesh is soft but the squash has not begun to collapse.
6. Gently scrape most of the flesh from the sides in small spoonfuls and stir it into the soup, being careful not to puncture the skin. Add salt as needed, to taste.
7. Keep warm until ready to eat and serve with a ladle or large spoon.
More about cooking with leeks and winter squash: Read Growing and Cooking Leeks and Winter Squashes for additional growing and cooking tips for these two winter favorites.
Esteemed garden writer Barbara Damrosch farms and writes with her husband, Eliot Coleman, at Four Season Farm in Harborside, Maine. She is the author of The Garden Primer and, with Coleman, of the Four Season Farm Gardener's Cookbook.