CulturallyOurs Asian Influenced Butternut Squash Soup By Monique Sourinho With Coconut milk and garlic chili oil

Asian Influenced Butternut Squash Soup

CulturallyOurs Asian Influenced Butternut Squash Soup By Monique Sourinho With Coconut milk and garlic chili oil

This week we have food on our mind as we chatted with Uppma Vridi who used her culture, her heritage and her family background to create the business of her dreams. The quintessential ‘chai_walli‘ or server of tea as she is fondly known, for Uppma who she is and where she came from are essential parts of her life.

In case you missed her inspiring interview, you can listen to it here.

Have you ever wondered what the food you eat everyday can tell you about where you come from? Or why people from different parts of the world eat different types of food? And do you ever ask yourself why certain foods or culinary traditions are so important to your culture? There is more of a connection between food and culture than you may think.

Our friend Monique Sourinho of Bee The Love, a food photographer, food stylist and recipe developer living in Connecticut but originally from Laos is sharing one of her recipes, an Asian influenced butternut squash soup. For Monique, food is a way to create and share, make memories and bond, bring people and communities together.

From Monique,

You know what the admirable thing about food is?

It doesn’t judge.  It doesn’t talk back.  It doesn’t categorize you for your looks, or gender, or ethnicity. In fact, the wonderful thing about food is it brings people together.

It forms community.

Because of this, food is a basic necessity that all cultures can relate to. No matter what stage of life, what background, what color, what gender, or more, food has the power to heal unconditionally. And despite old traditions versus new, one culture versus another, similarities or differences, food gathers without discrimination.

I believe that the universal language of love, through kindness and respect, and certainly through food, has the power to bring generations and cultures together without limits. With that being said, I have a high respect for the power chefs have. When their goals are not to monetize but to celebrate bits and pieces of various cultures something magical seems to happen. It is as if they take different components and weave them together to dance in a melodic, sometimes unexpected, but oftentimes pleasant way. And it appears that the patterns and commonalities of some of these revolutionary chefs is that they have the passion to travel, learn, engage, and bring new ideas to the table, quite literally.

So, with all these concepts and values of how we can make an impact, I ponder the gaps, or more so, ‘opportunities’ to bridge cultures together through food, through culture, and especially through community.  Whether we highlight what is there, what came before us, or if we create a new genre, there are bountiful options we can share.CulturallyOurs Asian influenced butternut squash soup LaosFor instance, growing up, I didn’t quite know my culture. My mother migrated from Laos to the United States at a young age, so teaching me and raising me was completely different versus if I was born in Laos or if she was born in America.  There is a blurred line between right and wrong when the objective is merely to fit in.  It doesn’t help that America is built on a land that was already a culture of its own, so there is extra confusion all around.  On the other hand, I think that’s partially why Americans are a bit more open-minded though.  Some people could get upset or overwhelmed or some people could see the silver lining of the situation.  It wasn’t until later in life that I realized  fitting in wasn’t the only option.  There is beauty in new paths less traveled and new perspectives through learning about multiple, diverse ones.

Which is why I like to sprinkle in influences from places I’ve traveled, or from people I’ve met, from food I’ve tasted of all sorts of backgrounds and ethnicity.  My objective is not to put a label on anything but to celebrate something that just is.

No claims, no judgement, and certainly no discrimination.  Just ideas and theories and experiments galore.

For me, my mission with food is to create and share, make memories and bond, bring people and communities together, and tell a story even when there are drastic differences in language, culture, or looks.

Attached is one of my recipes inspired by local ingredients in New England, infusing hints of Asian cuisine.  It can be dressed up or down, in multiple ways or none, but ultimately, it is up to you and your taste buds, your pallet and preferences, your background or your current state.  Just like with the possibilities of spreading the love, through food or not, the options are limitless.

I hope you enjoy!CulturallyOurs Asian Influenced Butternut Squash Soup By Monique Sourinho

Asian Influenced Butternut Squash Soup Recipe

Ingredients for the Garish

  • Crispy fried shallots or onions (homemade or purchased)
  • 6 tablespoons coconut milk
  • 1 bunch cilantro, roughly chopped or as sprigs
  • Chili oil or hot sauce (optional, for added spiciness)

Ingredients for the Soup

  • 3 large butternut squashes
  • 3 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 1 large yellow onion
  • 1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger
  • 6 cups vegetable stock
  • 14 ounces coconut milk
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • Salt and pepper, to taste


If using fried shallots or onions as garnish, slice very thinly into a saucepan and add canola oil until just covered. Cook on high heat until oil is bubbling, then reduce heat to medium and continue to cook until shallots/onions become golden brown. Remove to a dish lined with paper towels (to absorb excess oil) and set aside to cool.

Preheat oven to 350°. Cut squashes in half, lengthwise, and remove seeds. These can be cleaned and toasted for a scrap-saving snack! Brush open halves with 1 tablespoon coconut oil, then place squash (open sides down) on a baking sheet. Bake for 1 hour or until tender. Remove from oven and let cool. Discard peels, place flesh in a large bowl, and set aside.

In a large pot, heat 2 tablespoons coconut oil and cook onion and ginger over medium heat until soft and caramelized. Add vegetable stock and squash to pot, reduce heat to medium-low, then cover and simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and stir in coconut milk. Working in small batches, purée soup in a blender until smooth. Stir in lime juice and season with salt and pepper.Pour into serving bowls and garnish by swirling coconut milk and chili oil (if using) over each, then topping with fried shallots and cilantro, to taste.CulturallyOurs Asian Influenced Butternut Squash Soup By Monique SourinhoThank you so much Monique. This looks amazing and that coconut cream seems to balance the chili oil garnish really well. We cannot wait to dig in. And you are so right, food is one the best ways to connect cultures, experiences and people without judgement or prejudice.

{ Words and photos by Monique Sourinho, Website: Bee The Love; Instagram: }

Related Reading

Leave your comments below