Thai-Style Butternut Squash Soup

This soup's got it all: the daring, sophisticated scrumptiousness of Thai flavors, which my kids openly love, along with the texture, sweetness, and orange comfort of baby food, which they secretly remain partial to. Don't tell them I told you.

Hands-On Time: 30 minutes
Ready In: 1 hour
Yield: 9 cups

Ingredients

    1 large butternut squash
    2 tablespoons vegetable oil
    1 shallot, finely diced (about 1 tablespoon) or about 1 tablespoon diced onion
    2 cloves garlic, pressed
    1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
    1 teaspoon freshly grated lime zest
    1 teaspoon paprika
    1 teaspoon ground coriander
    1/4 teaspoon cayenne (optional)
    1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt (or half as much table salt)
    1 tablespoon sugar
    3 cups chicken broth
    1 (14-ounce) can coconut milk
    1 to 2 tablespoons lime juice
    Nam pla (fish sauce)
    Coarsely chopped cilantro (optional)

Directions

  1. Heat oven to 400. Halve squash lengthwise and scrape out all the seeds and stringy gunk. Line a baking sheet with foil, grease it with 1 tablespoon of the oil, and roast squash, cut sides down, until it is very soft, 45 minutes to an hour.
  2. Meanwhile, heat the remaining tablespoon of oil in a soup pot over medium-low heat for 2 minutes. Add the shallot, garlic, ginger, zest, paprika, coriander, and cayenne. (For more authentic Thai ingredients, replace the zest, paprika, coriander, and cayenne with a teaspoon of red curry paste and 3 to 4 Kaffir lime leaves.) Stir briskly until it's sizzling and fragrant, 30 seconds or so. Add salt, sugar, broth, and coconut milk, and bring to a simmer.
  3. If the squash isn't done, cover broth mixture and turn off heat; otherwise, add the squash (after scraping or scooping it out of the peel), and simmer for 15 minutes.
  4. Purée soup with a hand blender (or in batches in a blender or food processor). Add 1 cup water if soup seems too thick, then stir in lime juice and a dash or two of fish sauce. Taste. It should be lively — a mix of sweet, tart, and salty — so add more lime juice, salt, or sugar if needed. Garnish with cilantro, if using, and serve.

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