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Author Notes: I'm always looking for good, complex soups that don't require chicken stock. They're hard to come by, but it makes the occasional discovery that much more exciting. This simple soup gets its umami from fish sauce, whose flavor is subtle enough to just blend into the soup. Red curry paste (I use Mae Ploy brand) and red onion round out this very simple but surprisingly flavorful soup. (I made this twice: the first time I needed 3 teaspoons fish sauce, the second time only 2. Add them one at a time.) —Rivka
- 3 tablespoons butter, divided
- 3 pounds butternut squash, peeled, seeds removed, cut into one-inch chunks
- 1/2 red onion, chopped
- 2-3 teaspoons fish sauce
- 2.5 teaspoons thai red curry paste (I use Mae Ploy brand)
- 2 shallots, sliced
- Put 2 tablespoons butter in large pot over medium heat. When butter starts to foam, add red onion and stir to coat. Cook 2 minutes, until onion starts to soften.
- Add red curry paste and use the back of a spoon to mash against the onions and incorporate. Cook 2 minutes more; curry should be fragrant.
- Add squash to pan, toss to coat with onion-curry mixture, and cover pot. Cook about 10 minutes over medium heat; squash pieces should be mostly cooked through, and some pieces may have turned golden. (This is good.)
- Add 6 cups of water, and use the bottom of your spoon to scrape up any little bits that have collected at the bottom of the pan. Cover pot and cook about 15 minutes. Water will be heated through, and squash will have softened considerably. Add fish sauce and stir through. Cook about 2 more minutes, then turn off heat and let soup cool 5 minutes.
- In a separate small pan, heat remaining tablespoon butter on medium. when foam subsides, add sliced shallots. fry in butter until browned and crisp; turn off heat and strain shallots onto paper towel-lined plate.
- Using an immersion or regular blender, blend soup (in batches, if using traditional blender) until smooth. Pass through a fine mesh strainer into a large bowl. Portion soup into four bowls, top with fried shallots, and serve. If not serving immediately, store in the refrigerator. Soup will keep for at least a week.
- This recipe was entered in the contest for Your Best Butternut Squash