Deputy Food editor/Recipe editor

Squash, Spinach and Coconut Soup With Ginger; get the recipe, below. (Jennifer Chase/For The Washington Post)

Even though this is a simple recipe , it has a lesson or two that you can apply to the creamy soups you make down the road.

The first has to do with pre-cut butternut squash chunks you can find in most supermarkets these days. The trade-off in using them is that they can have less moisture and flavor than squash you cut fresh. Here, ginger and the sly heat of a small chile pepper do the heavy lifting, flavorwise; the squash adds texture and a satisfying bulk. So take advantage of this prep shortcut.

The other takeaway has to do with the serendipity of grocery shopping — as in, a recent trip to a well-stocked Asian market yielded canned bamboo shoots cut to resemble thick, round noodles. This soup is thick enough to keep them afloat, and they offer a low-carb, high-fiber way to add a tender chew. (I should have grabbed a couple of cans, as I can see how they’d be nice in a stir-fry, too.)

If you can only find the shoots that are cut into thin planks, try cutting those into thin strips for the same effect.

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Squash, Spinach and Coconut Soup With Ginger

6 servings (makes 8 cups), Healthy

Serve with warm flatbread.

Canned bamboo shoots that are already cut into thin, noodlelike strips are available at large Asian markets.

Based on a recipe from “Itsu the Cookbook: Eat Beautiful — 100 Recipes for Health and Happiness,” by Julian Metcalfe (Mitchell Beazley, 2014).

Ingredients

One 3-inch piece fresh ginger root

1 cup canned bamboo shoots (see headnote)

4½ cups no-salt-added vegetable broth

¾ cup coconut milk, preferably Aroy D brand

1 small red Thai chile pepper

1 tablespoon low-sodium soy sauce, or more as needed

1 tablespoon Thai fish sauce, or more as needed

Half a lemon

1 teaspoon cornstarch

3 cups peeled butternut squash chunks (see headnote and NOTE)

About 9 cups spinach leaves

Steps

Peel and mince the ginger to yield about 3 tablespoons. Drain and rinse the bamboo shoots. Cut them into thin strips, if desired.

Heat the broth in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Once it begins to boil, stir in the coconut milk, chile pepper, ginger, soy sauce and fish sauce.

Squeeze 2 teaspoons of juice from the lemon half into a small bowl, then whisk in the cornstarch. Stir this slurry into the saucepan; cook for about 5 minutes or until it helps thicken the soup.

Meanwhile, cut the chunks of butternut squash into ½ -inch pieces (so they will cook more quickly and evenly). Add them to the saucepan; cook for 7 to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Stir in the spinach; cook for a minute, or just until it has wilted. Reduce the heat to medium-low.

If you want to keep the chile heat to a minimum, pull out the pepper before you use an immersion (stick) blender to puree the soup just enough to make it creamy. (We kept the chile in.) Alternatively, pull out some of the squash and spinach along with the pepper, mash those two with a fork and stir them back in. Taste and add more soy sauce or fish sauce, as needed.

Stir in the bamboo shoots. Once they are warmed through, divide the soup among individual bowls. Serve right away.

NOTE: It will take an extra 5 to 8 minutes to break down a butternut squash for this recipe. To do so, cut away the cylindrical neck, which is the part you will be working with. Stand it on one end, use a sharp knife to cut away the peel, and then cut the flesh into ½ -inch thick planks. Cut those down further into ­1/2 -inch pieces. You’ll need the same yield as above — 3 cups.

Nutrition | Per serving: 110 calories, 3 g protein, 16 g carbohydrates, 5 g fat, 3 g saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 370 mg sodium, 2 g dietary fiber, 6 g sugar

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