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Vadouvan, a Pantry Special (Recipe: butternut squash, apple and vadouvan soup)


Before last season's Top Chef, I'd never heard of vadouvan,so when I saw a small sample packet at the The Spice House in Chicago last summer, I couldn't pass it up. Basically, it's a French version of a South Indian curry powder (which can be a blend of up to 30 spices), and just as curry powders vary from one cook to the next, so does vadouvan. Sometimes it's more of a paste, made with cooked onions, that needs to be stored in the refrigerator. The packet I bought, which is a dry spice mix, contains curry, curry leaves, white and toasted onion and garlic powders, brown mustard seeds, shallots and kosher salt. Some blends also include fenugreek and cardamom. Use it as you would a sweet curry powder; the flavor is milder and a bit more fruity, with just a hint of smoke.

Is this Pantry Special new to you?

How to make your own vadouvan:
Vadouvan, from Gourmet Sleuth
Vadouvan, from Gourmet Magazine

Where to buy online:
The Spice House ($5.99/4 oz)
Kalyustan's ($9.99/4 oz)
Savory Spice House ($4.85/2 oz)

How to use vadouvan:
Red lentil soup with vadouvan
Vadouvan and orange shrimp
Cherry tomato and arugula salad
Pork tenderloin with tomato-peach compote

Squash, apple and vadouvan soup 

Butternut squash, apple and vadouvan soup

Whenever I meet a new spice, I like to use it in a version of a recipe I make frequently. It's a good way to test the effect of the new ingredient, because you already know how the dish tastes. This soup was the perfect foil for vadouvan's curry overtones. The result was a bit more fruity, and more complex, than my traditional squash and apple soup. Make this vegan by using vegetable broth. Serves 8.


2 medium butternut squash, peeled and cut into 2-inch cubes
1 large red onion, peeled and chopped
2-3 Tbsp olive oil
2 large tart apples (I like Macoun), cored (but not peeled), roughly chopped
2 Tbsp vadouvan
2 Tbsp hot curry powder, or 2 Tbsp sweet curry powder plus 1 tsp hot sauce
1 qt chicken broth (I use Swanson 99%) or vegetable broth
1-2 Tbsp honey, to taste
1-2 Tbsp lemon juice, to taste
1 tsp fresh ground black pepper, or more to taste


In a large stockpot, place the squash, onion and olive oil. Over medium heat, cook, stirring frequently, until the onion is translucent and the edges of the squash are starting to soften. Add the apples, and cook 2 minutes more. Add vadouvan and curry powder, and cook, stirring constantly, for 2 minutes, until the spices are lightly toasted and fragrant. Add the chicken broth. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and cook for 20 minutes or until the squash is quite soft.

Remove the pot from heat and, using an immersion blender, puree the soup until smooth. If you don't have an immersion blender, puree the soup in batches in a blender or food processor, and return the soup to the pot. Stir in honey, lemon juice, and black pepper. Return the pot to the stove, and cook over low heat for 5 minutes. Taste, adjust seasoning, and serve hot.

More recipes in The Perfect Pantry:
Curried green tomatoes
Curried mushroom, bean and barley soup
Tortilla and lime soup

Disclosure: The Perfect Pantry earns a few pennies on purchases made through the Amazon.com links in this post. Thank you for supporting this site when you start your shopping here.


I'm not going to rush right to the kitchen -- after all, it's 1 in the morning, but you've got me salivating. Let's see if Pavlov can follow through. (No, I don't have room for another spice, but why not?)

Lydia, this recipe sounds divine! I love butternut squash in curries, so using this in a squash soup is such a great idea.

Cool - this sounds like a nice spice mixture! Yum.

I remember reading about this spice mix on Fat Free Vegan Kitchen, and now I'm wishing I had bought some too! Never too many spices, that's my motto!

Squash soup: although delicious - can be boring and predictable. This one doesn't sound that way at all!!!
Thanks for bringing a new spice to my attention. Who knew!!

It is definetly new to me and boy does that soup look good and healthy as well.

Very interesting. I love butternut squash soup and I usually make mine with sage & chipotle. I'll have to give it a gow with some new and interesting spices.

I love this! I'm a great fan of butternut squash soup, and I'm always up (or should I say "down" these days?) for a new spice. I am LITERALLY salivating!

Mmm! Today is the perfect soup day and this looks and sounds fabulous. I need to find some vadouvan!!

I have never heard of this, until you did this post! Sounds wonderful, though. Curry powder adds so much flavor and this one sounds very tasty.

Hi Lydia!

Is there a reason you do not peel the apples?

Thanks for a great sounding soup!


Susan, Jason, Alta, Carol, Daryl, Toni, Sues, Janel: Please let me know what new and wonderful things you do when you get your hands on some vadouvan. I'm very excited about this spice blend.

Kalyn, This is one of many spice blends that The Spice House had, but Penzeys didn't. Hooray for online ordering!

Chiot's Run, chipotle is great with squash soup. Sometimes I just add a bit of the adobo sauce from canned chipotles rather than the peppers themselves. Takes the soup in a whole different direction.

Cary, I almost never peel apples, even in apple pies and tarts. The skin is where the fiber is, and in this soup, it's all pureed, so texture isn't an issue.

Ah, one that got away. How did that happen? Thanks for the lead, Lydia. I'd never heard of vandouvan. Off to track it down.

Will try your version of butternut squash, apple, and curry soup soon! I can always use an alternative to my favorite version!

I will be asking my daughter to make us this soup!

Susan, I think vadouvan will be a wonderful addition to your style of cooking. Please let me know if you can't find it; I'll send you some.

Teresa, what's your favorite squash soup variation?

Daryl, I'll bet she will do it, too!

Your soup - and vadouvan - sound delicious! I'm printing out the recipe. (I watched Top Chef last season and I *still* don't remember vadouvan!) Does the deep red color of the soup come from the spices?

In this season of colds and flu, I find myself making healthy soup by the vat-load, and adding in vitamin-rich green vegetables: pea soup with spinach blended in, cream of broccoli soup with collard greens blended in. I make enough that I can freeze a container each time, thus stockpiling for whatever colds come along.

I'm glad you mention an immersion blender - they are such a useful piece of equipment, and yet you don't see them called for in recipes, even in the newer cookbooks.

I'm so intrigued by this new (to me) spice melange. I need peppercorns anyway, so I'm off to the Spice House to place my order. Thanks for posting this!

Judy, the soup wasn't quite as red as the photo, but the red comes from the apple skins more than anything else. I love my immersion blender and can't remember life before it. So much easier to make soup now than when I had to puree in batches in the food processor.

Christine, vadouvan has a wonderful flavor for Fall, especially with root vegetables. Have fun with it.

...and this is my first time hearing of Vadovan...I must have it and I do like fenugreek.

Oh my gosh. I am a soup fiend and this looks and sounds wonderful to me.

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