Buttercup Squash Soup with Lemongrass
Coconut milk adds a creamy flavor to this Asian-inspired fall soup.
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Lemongrass is a stalky plant with a lemony scent that grows in many tropical climates, most notably in Southeast-Asia. A common ingredient in Southeast Asian cooking, lemongrass provides a zesty lemon flavor and aroma to many dishes. The stalk is very fibrous and sometimes stringy, so either mash pieces of the stalk in a mortar and pestle, chop finely and allow to simmer in broth or sauce, or just add a few stalks that you bruise with the side of your knife to a soup or stir fry to add flavor (then remove the stalk before serving).
Handling: Cut off the lower bulb and remove tough, outer leaves. The main stalk (the yellow section) is what is used most often used in Southeast Asian cooking, although you can the upper green “stem” and add it to soups and curries for extra flavor.
Storing: Store cut lemongrass in the refrigerator, tightly wrapped, for up to 2 weeks. Buy extra and freeze it indefinitely or snip stalks into small pieces and dry them. Store in airtight jars, then use as is, or grind to a powder before incorporating into a dish.
Start your own plant: Take one or two of your stalks and place the bulb end in water. Allow it to soak until roots form (this may take anywhere from 2 weeks to a month). Once your lemongrass has developed roots ½ an inch to 1 inch long, plant it in your garden, or in a pot with lots of rich soil. Lemongrass likes sun and warm temperatures, so if you choose to keep it indoors, be sure to give it a south-facing window.