Butternut Squash, Corn and Coconut Soup

Soup and Stew | November 20, 2014 | By

This is an exciting post!  I’ve been published, folks! 

I’ve mentioned before that my sister, Allison, is a certified sommelier. By day, she runs Investor Relations for a hedge fund and by night, she’s a wine writer for Parade Magazine online. Together with her friend Melissa from wine school, they launched Allie and Mel Uncorked which is a fantastic column discussing all things wine. Allison is really talented. She doesn’t think she is because she’s modest but she has a natural talent for both writing and wine tasting/knowledge. You can always tell when someone is authentically passionate about something and that’s exactly what comes through in her column. I’m so proud of her for not only taking a leap and going to wine school in the first place but for working so hard on writing thoughtful, unpretentious articles about wine. That’s not easy to do when that world is typically comprised of arrogant, snobby people. Allison brings wine knowledge to the normal, everyday person in a way that’s educational, fun and exciting. She stands out in the wine world because she showcases facts and passion in a sincere, helpful way which genuinely appeals to most people in my opinion.

Allison gets pitched a lot of ideas and sent wine from winemakers hoping that she’ll taste and write about their wines. She is very careful with each wine that she tastes in that it must pass her wine panel tasting group. The wine panels are comprised of several fellow sommeliers who each posses different strengths from smelling to tasting. Every wine goes through the same process and it has to pass certain criteria in order for Allison to write about it. She takes this very seriously as she deeply appreciates any winemaker who would share their wine with her. Each vineyard has their story and Allison thoughtfully respects and values each one.

One of the ideas she was pitched recently was pairing wine with alternatives to pumpkin this Fall. She called me and asked if I’d be willing to participate in their panel by making three different squash dishes for them to cross taste with several wines. I was thrilled! I willingly accepted and decided on a crostini, a soup and a simple roasted squash. I wanted there to be vastly different flavors layered throughout each dish so that the wines could properly be tested, if you will.

Can we pause for a second and discuss how dang serious the wine panel is?! Holy moly, I was shocked. I showed up all excited and ready to drink a bunch of wine but my idea of the panel was waaaaay off. It’s a serious, professional tasting and I was like the kid sister tugging on your pant leg. I also a) ate all my food forgetting I needed to save it to try with several of the wines and b) drank all the wine in each round instead of spitting which made for a really harsh day at work the next day. Annnnd, this is why I’m the chef and not the sommelier.

I was so glad to cook for the panel and hope to do so again soon. Please take a moment to read about the wonderful wines Allison chose for my dishes (and to see my name in print!) and to browse more of Allison’s work. I’ve also shared the soup recipe with you here today so get to cooking, friends!   

Recipe adapted from: Epicurious

Butternut Squash, Corn and Coconut Soup
Serves 6.
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For the Soup
  1. 2 tablespoons coconut oil
  2. 1 medium onion, roughly chopped
  3. 1/4 cup fresh cilantro stems, finely chopped
  4. 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
  5. 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  6. 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  7. 2 pounds butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into 1/2 inch pieces
  8. 4 cups vegetable stock
  9. 12 ounces canned, unsweetened coconut milk
  10. 3 cups frozen corn
  11. 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  12. 1/2 cup fresh cilantro for garnish, chopped just before using
  13. Salt and freshly ground black pepper
For the Corn Relish
  1. 2 cups frozen corn
  2. 2 tablespoons coconut oil
  3. 1 shallot, thinly sliced
  4. Juice of half a lime
To Make the Soup
  1. Heat a large soup pot over medium-high heat and add coconut oil. Add onion and sauté until just beginning to soften, about 4 minutes. Add cilantro stems, coriander and garlic and cook for about 3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
  2. Add apple cider vinegar and cook until the vinegar smell lessens, about 3 -5 minutes. Make sure to scrape up any good bits off the bottom of the pot. Add the squash, vegetable stock, coconut milk, corn and cayenne. Season with salt and pepper. Cover and simmer, stirring occasionally until the squash is very tender, about 15 – 20 minutes.
  3. Once the squash is tender, puree soup with an immersion blender or a regular blender in batches. If using a regular blender, be careful not to fill it too full as the steam from the hot soup can make the lid pop off. Blend until smooth. Taste and season as necessary with salt and pepper.
  4. Serve in bowls with a spoonful or two of corn relish and freshly chopped cilantro.
To Make the Corn Relish
  1. While the soup is simmering, make the corn relish by first bringing a small pot of water to a boil. When it begins to boil, add two nice handfuls of coarse sea salt to the water and then add the corn. Boil only until heated through, about 2 – 3 minutes. Drain.
  2. Heat the same pot you boiled the corn in to medium and add the coconut oil and the shallot. Cook shallot until tender, about 5 minutes. Add corn and lime juice and season with salt and pepper.
  3. Taste and add a little more coconut oil if the lime juice is too tart.
  1. Sadly, fresh corn is not available right now because that is certainly what you would want to use but frozen does the trick in a pinch.
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