Thai Squash Soup + [budget food list]

Thai Squash Soup | Satisfying soup recipe from

Sweet, sour, salty and spicy, all the flavors of Thai food in each bite. This dairy-free Squash Curry Soup is spoonfuls of good-for-you!

As a registered dietitian and nutrition educator, I hear people complain that it costs too much to eat healthier foods.

Harvard researchers agree. The healthiest diets, those rich in fruits, vegetables, nuts, and fish, cost an average $1.50 per day more than a diet high in processed foods and refined grains. Over a year this amounts to just under $550, but the investment in your health will pay dividends.

If you think eating is expensive, try paying for a chronic disease!

People with diabetes spend more than two times the amount people without diabetes spend on their health. The average cost to health insurers for 3 months following a heart attack averages more than $398,000.

Eating on a budget

But rather than be grim, let’s focus on how to stretch your food dollars, maximize your nutritional bang for your buck and eat on a budget. These foods are always in my kitchen.

Top 12 healthy budget-minded foods

  1. brown rice
  2. beans and peas, dried and canned pinto, black beans, garbanzos, lentils
  3. canned salmon and tuna
  4. milk
  5. whole-wheat pasta
  6. carrots
  7. canned tomatoes
  8. eggs
  9. peanut butter
  10. plain yogurt
  11. old-fashioned oats
  12. frozen plain vegetables

If you need help, check out my budget tips plus a cabbage slaw recipe and the LiveBest grocery list. If you want more ideas, look at the USDA’s Healthy Eating on a Budget, a free downloadable cookbook with 2 weeks of menu ideas. Here’s my recipe for Gallo Pinto (black beans and rice).

For this post I wanted to create a healthy entree recipe to help keep food spending in check. Can I make a meal for less than $3 per serving? I think I hit the lottery!

My solution? Squash. A big one.

Cooked Buttercup Squash
Buttercup Squash, but Butternut, Kabocha or other large winter squash works

How to cook squash

I placed this Buttercup squash on a baking sheet in a 375°F oven for about 60 minutes (or until squash is soft and the sides buckle). Remove from oven, allow to cool. After it cooled, I cut it, peeled off the skin, removed seeds and found I had the base for several meals. I stretched that single squash into 5 meals and had leftover squash to freeze!

frozen squash labeled in a zip top freezer bag
Always good to label when you freeze food.

The good news! You can make all these recipes without baking a squash!

You don’t have to buy and precook an enormo squash. Buy a small one. Buy a package of frozen squash. Buy precut squash from the refrigerated vegetable section. You’ll pay more for the convenience, but you’ll be rockin’ this soup in no time!

Cheap, healthy, easy meals: squash recipes for breakfast, lunch and dinner

Roasted with maple syrup to serve as a side or added to a salad, ravioli with browned sage butter, tacos, a breakfast skillet, pizza, and Thai Squash Soup. And I still have squash in the freezer for more soup and ravioli! I admit that some of my ingredients aren’t included in this list above, but they are all great flavor boosters. For a squash that cost $8, look at all the meals I made!

Roasted Buttercup Squash |
Roasted Buttercup Squash
Black Bean Squash Taco |
Black Bean Squash Tacos
cast iron skillet with Cauliflower Squash Breakfast Skillet |
Squash, Cauliflower Skillet
Squash Sage Pizza
Squash Sage Ricotta Pizza
Thai Squash Soup bowl with toasted squash seeds
Thai Squash Soup

How to Make Thai Squash Soup

This hearty squash soup is sweet, sour, salty and spicy. All the flavors of Thai food in each spoonful.

  • It’s an easy dairy-free soup recipe that is packed with vegetables. Use vegetable broth to make it vegetarian.
  • It’s a versatile soup. Use Butternut squash or Acorn, or Buttercup. Really, about any hard, orange, winter squash will work. Add other vegetables. Use what you have to equal 5 cups of chopped vegetables. Sweet potato, carrots, red or orange peppers. If you don’t have fresh ginger, add a teaspoon of ground ginger.
  • You don’t have to buy and precook an enormo squash. Buy a small one. Buy a package of frozen squash. Buy precut squash from the refrigerated vegetable section. You’ll pay more for the convenience, but you’ll be rockin’ this soup in no time!

Chop the vegetables, brown, season with cumin, pepper and red curry paste, add unsweetened coconut milk and broth, bring to boil and then simmer 15 -20 minutes. Puree in a blender for a creamy soup or leave chunky.

Find red curry paste, canned unsweetened coconut milk, and fish sauce in the Asian section.

To get more flavor, brown the vegetables in oil. The sugars caramelize and will make a richer tasting soup.

Chop vegetables
Brown with oil
Season with cumin and curry paste

Pin it for later!

bowl to soup topped with squash seeds

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Thai Squash Soup

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This dairy-free soup is sweet, sour, salty and spicy. All the flavors of Thai food in each bite. Thai Squash Curry Soup is spoonfuls of good-for-you!

  • Author: Judy Barbe
  • Prep Time: 30 minutes
  • Cook Time: 30 mins
  • Total Time: 1 hour
  • Yield: 4 1x
  • Category: Soup
  • Method: Oven and stove
  • Cuisine: Asian


  • 2 teaspoons canola oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 tablespoons red curry paste  (find in the Asian section in a small jar)
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 45 cups squash, cubed
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2-inch piece fresh ginger or 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 13.66 ounce can unsweetened coconut milk
  • 1 14.5 once can vegetable or chicken broth
  • 1 tablespoons fish sauce or soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon brown or raw sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • Lime, zest and juice
  • Toasted squash seeds


  1. In a 4-quart pan, over medium heat, add oil, onion, garlic, and ginger. If using raw squash, add that now. Cook 8-10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until onion is softened and transparent. If onion starts to brown, reduce heat.
  2. Add curry paste and cumin, stirring for 1 minute.
  3. Add squash (if using precooked), coconut milk, broth, fish sauce, sugar, pepper and lime zest. Stir to combine. If needed, add water to cover the vegetables. 
  4. Bring soup to a boil then reduce heat to low. Cover, simmer for 15 minutes or until vegetables are tender.
  5. Serve it chunky or smooth. I ran mine through the blender for a minute or use an immersion blender.
  6. Top with a squeeze of lime juice and the toasted squash seeds.
  7. To toast squash seeds: scrape them out of the squash. Remove as much pulp as you can. Rinse in a bowl of water. In a separate bowl, sprinkle seeds with a teaspoon of canola oil and a 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Spread seeds in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake at 325° for 15-20 minutes, until they start to brown. Stir occasionally and keep an eye on them for browning. Remove pan from oven, place on calling rack. Seeds will crisp as they cool.


Add diced sweet potato, carrots, and red or orange peppers at the same time you add raw diced squash, if you have them on hand.



  • Serving Size: 2 cups

One year ago: Pasta Puttanesca

Thai Squash Soup | Healthy, hearty homemade soup recipe from Coconut milk, butternut squash, curry and more!
12 healthy foods to help your budget. Real foods that save money.


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