winter squash-coconut milk soup with garam masala

pumpkin soup with masala and coconut milkTHE RABBITS got the beans that year. The cold weather all that same “summer” got some of the tomatoes. But I got the winter squash, in spades–a bumper crop. Meaning: Let there be soup. Winter Squash-Coconut Milk Soup with Garam Masala, to be specific.

The house was full of squash, in fact, that year–from my desk, where they sit, expectant, beside my laptop (below) to the entire mudroom (bottom of page), where horse-collar-shaped oddities like ‘Tromboncino’ join the smaller ‘Butternut’ types.

desk full of butternutI made up this recipe at freezer-emptying time in early summer, when I found two containers of roasted, mashed winter squash in my deep-freeze, and needed the room for incoming garden-fresh goodies. It is based on a soup with a coconut undertone and Indian spices that I had eaten in a restaurant and wanted to try to emulate. My first pass went like this:

winter squash-coconut milk soup with garam masala


  • 4 cups fine-grained winter squash, such as ‘Butternut’ or ‘Blue Hubbard,’ roasted and mashed
  • 3 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 1½ cups diced onion
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • garam masala powder (start with 1 Tablespoon; I used 3 Tablespoons; see note below about this spice blend)
  • ¾ cup canned light, unsweetened organic coconut milk
  • 3 cups vegetable broth (or water)
  • cilantro for garnish, chopped


  • Roast and mash the squash ahead of time. (To roast: Simply halve the squash, scoop out seeds, and place halves, flesh side down, on a baking sheet in a 375F oven until soft. Then scoop and mash the cooked flesh, discarding the skin.)
  • Saute the diced onion and chopped garlic in olive oil until soft.
  • Add the garam masala and cook a little longer. (Enjoy the fragrance!)
  • Measure out the 4 cups of squash into a soup pot, and add spiced onion-garlic to it.
  • Add coconut milk and broth (or water). Note: I like a thick soup, but you may wish to dilute further. Also: Some squash are drier, some moister, so adjust for that as well to preferred consistency.
  • Bring to a boil and reduce heat to simmer for 45 minutes or longer.
  • Cooled to at least warm, then puree with an immersion blender right in the pot, or ladle into a blender in batches until all the soup is pureed.
  • Garnish with cilantro at serving time.

quash wait in mudroomabout garam masala

I USED this garam masala, from spicesandtease.com, but each brand will be a little (or a lot) different. I can tell you that this one is nothing like the supermarket bottled version, if your supermarket even sells garam masala.

“Garam masala is an essential ingredient in the cooking of the Punjab region of northern India,” the Spices and Tease online catalog explains. “Loosely defined, ‘masala’ is any blend of spices, and ‘garam’ means hot.”

Spices and Tease says their garam masala contains: Moroccan coriander; cardamom from Tamil Nadu, India; bay leaves; Tellicherry pepper; cinnamon; caraway; Zanzibar cloves; China #1 ginger, and nutmeg. A great place to order holiday gifts for friends who cook, whether squash soup or otherwise.

Don’t have garam masala? One batch I improvised with my own masala of flavors: In the cupboard I found powdered cumin, coriander and a little cardamon, plus ginger powder, and then I added some harissa from a jar in the fridge, too. Another time I used red curry paste I had in the fridge and improvised around that. Delicious.

  1. Joan says:

    Made this soup for dinner; it was delicious. It’s been cold snd rainy today; soup was the perfect dish for this kind if weather. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Joanne says:

    Your recipe appeared the day after I’d cooked one of those butternuts that aren’t up to par: slightly off flavor, not sweet, a bit coarse-textured. I had a lot left over. Figuring I had nothing to lose, I transformed it with your recipe, turning what might’ve gone to the compost into a truly delicious thick squash soup! No one would ever guess that it didn’t start out with a perfect butternut. My new go-to for disappointing squashes.

  3. Carole Serling says:

    I’m looking forward to making your recipe for winter squash-coconut milk soup. I would have liked to know how many butternut squashes in pounds to roast in order to end up with 4 cups of mashed squash. I’m going to estimate it will take at least two medium sized squashes and I hope that works out. Also, it would be nice if you provided a button to click in order to print the recipe. Nevertheless, I was able to copy and paste it, so that worked out fine. Thank you.

  4. Patricia Deering says:

    Hi Margaret. What are those long curved squash in the picture? Are they Trombetta di Albenga? If they are, can you cook them like any other winter squash? I have some and was wondering. I do eat them like a summer squash when they are small.

    1. margaret says:

      It’s about 8 cups of ingredients (squash, coconut milk, water) so figure from there what size portions you like (cup or bowl) and divide maybe.

  5. Christine Todd says:

    Good morning Margaret,

    I just made your same soup using a store pumpkin my daughter gave me from halloween. I was surprised and happy to see you made the same soup this week. Yours will taste better since you used butternut squash, which is my favoritel I also used homemade garam masala. I love to cook and always try your recipes when they are in your newsletter.

    I live near Yosemite National Park, in Mariposa, California. Our town population is about 1,700 and our county population is 18,000. I live at 1,700 ft. and have a nice winter garden in my hoop house and greenhouse. Am making pesto today. Buried in swiss chard and broccoli. Also have a root cellar which I no longer use as my back porch works fine. Even have tomatoes in greenhouse, along with spinach, arugula, kale, etc.
    Have a wonderful week. Wish I could visit but I like to stay away from crowds so don’t fly.
    Chris Todd

  6. Linda Larson says:

    I’m skeptical, amused, and doubtful of “simply halve the squash “. My efforts to halve butternut squash usually requires a cleaver with great force! The recipe sounds great other than that.

  7. Ann says:

    Your soup making sounds like how I roll with your crust less pumpkin pie recipe- the spices always make the difference- happy holidays- look forward to your email every week! Ann

  8. Alana Steib says:

    Thanks for sharing your/David’s French Onion Soup recipe, Margaret. I’ve hosted our family Thanksgiving here for decades (even two outside in the gardens around the fire pit during Covid) and I never, ever make and serve anything that I haven’t made at least once before. But that recipe suckered me right in! I did decide to use the traditional beef broth instead of the chicken broth. It was fabulous. I don’t think I’ve ever gotten so many compliments from so many family members (almost all are great cooks) as I received for that French Onion Soup. My 24 year old nephew even sent an email the following day applauding the soup. When ever does a 20-something send a Thank You note to his Aunt for anything??

  9. Nina says:

    This sounds yummy. I make butternut squash soup all winter. Sometimes with carrots, sometime with ginger or sweet potatoes. Haven’t thought to try garam masala in it. Will try! Thanks for the recipe!

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