I'm not really sure I should be telling you this, but on Friday, I was a Bachelorette. Yep—that's right—with the help of my sister and my mother and a whole gang of friends, I was transformed from a perfectly nice girl into a tacky-veil-wearing, high-heeled, boozy wreck of a bride-to-be.
It was quite a night.
I'm not going to tell you too much—I am hoping, after all, to maintain at least some itsy-bitsy shred of dignity—but I will say that it was not nearly so bad a rite of passage as I'd feared. There may or may not have been a Karaoke Funk-Mobile involved, and at least one not-to-be-named person doing The Worm, but other than that, things were pretty tame.
Really, though, if we're being honest, there is only one part of the evening that I would ever like to revisit, and that is the arrival of two quarts of my mother's Thai-spiced squash soup. I know we just talked about squash soup the other day around here, and I swear I'm not trying to turn you into some sort of strange beta-Carotene overdosed gang of Readers with Orange Hands, but this one is worth bringing it up again. It arrived in two quart-sized Mason jars with my mother and my sister and my friend Emily in the backseat of my parents' Volvo, and it was by far the most wholesome, most re-tell-able part of the whole evening.
The way my mother makes it is this:
She rounds up a winter squash or two, maybe an acorn or a butternut or even a kabocha, cuts them in half, and roasts them in the oven on a big cookie sheet. Then once they're cooled she scoops out their insides, drops them into a soup pot with some hot olive oil, a can of coconut milk, some red curry paste, and a splash of chicken stock, and that's it. There's a little blending to be done once everything's hot, just to make sure the soup is good and smooth, but otherwise, it's the kind of thing you can make the day before your daughter's bachelorette party when you still have a wedding to finish planning and a full time job and several bedrooms to paint and not even have to stay up very late.
It's especially good on a day like today, which is when I finally got to sit down in peace with a bowl. It helps that October seems to have very officially settled the fall weather in for good, and that I was able to pick the last of the season's cilantro, chop it up fine, and sprinkle it on top. But most of all, sometimes, it is just incredibly nice to sit down and realize that you are eating your mother's soup.
THAI-SPICED SQUASH SOUP
My mother found the original of this recipe at Heidi's 101 Cookbooks over here. It was easy enough to start, but she tweaked it to make it even simpler without sacrificing one bit of the flavor that makes it so rich. I think she usually uses acorn squash, but feel free to use any kind of smallish winter squash in the acorn-butternut genre—they'll all work. Also, she uses light, organic coconut milk, but full fat is fine, too. Other than that, there aren't many places to veer off track.
1 smallish winter squash (acorn, sugar pumpkin, butternut, or kabocha will all work)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 roughly 14-ounce can coconut milk
1 teaspoon red curry paste, or more to taste
1/2 cup chicken stock, and more as needed
finely chopped cilantro, for garnishing
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Cut the squash in half, scoop out any seeds and stringy flesh, and place both hollowed out halves face up on a cookie sheet. Drop a few spoonfuls of water into the center well of each squash—this will help it avoid losing too much moisture around the edges and turning dark as it cooks. Bake the squash for roughly an hour, or until the flesh is very tender.
Heat up the olive oil in a large, heavy-bottomed soup pot over medium heat. Add the squash, the coconut milk, the red curry paste, and the chicken broth, and bring everything to a boil. Puree the soup in a blender until it is very, very smooth, and return it to the pot. Season the soup with salt and pepper to taste and thin it with more chicken stock as needed. Leave the soup over low heat to simmer for about five minutes, stirring occasionally, to let the flavors come together. Serve hot, and if you'd like, sprinkle a garnish of cilantro on top.
My mother says this is definitely one of those soups that is better the next day, and I agree. Letting it sit around in the fridge before doling it out at a dinner party or in lunch boxes won't hurt.