• 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 2 pounds skinless, boneless chicken thighs, chopped into bite-sized pieces
  • 1 medium red onion, diced, divided
  • 2 teaspoons brown sugar
  • freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, or to taste
  • 1 tablespoon freshly minced ginger
  • 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 6 cups chicken broth, or to taste, divided
  • 1 (13 ounce) can unsweetened coconut milk (not low-fat)
  • 2 tablespoons red curry paste, or more to taste
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1bay leaf
  • 1 tablespoon fish sauce
  • 1 (2 pound) kabocha squash
  • 1 large red bell pepper, diced
  • 2 medium green onions, thinly sliced, or more to taste
  • ½ cup chopped fresh cilantro, or more to taste
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh basil, or more to taste
  • 2 small serrano peppers, thinly sliced
  • 3 medium limes, halved
  • Directions

  • Step 1

    Heat vegetable oil in a soup pot over high heat. Add chicken to hot oil; cook, stirring occasionally until browned, about 5 minutes.


  • Step 2

    Stir in 1/2 of the red onion and brown sugar. Cook until onions have softened and sugar starts to caramelize on the bottom of the pan, about 3 minutes. Stir in black pepper, cumin, and 1 teaspoon kosher salt. Toss in ginger and garlic; stir until sizzling, about 1 minute.

  • Step 3

    Add 4 cups chicken broth and stir to deglaze the bottom of the pot. Bring to a boil. Add coconut milk and curry paste. Add cayenne pepper and bay leaf. Stir in fish sauce. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 30 minutes.

  • Step 4

    Carefully cut squash with a large knife on a cutting board. Remove seeds and peel and discard skin. Cut flesh into bite-sized pieces. You should have about 1 1/2 pounds squash.

  • Step 5

    Add squash to soup and salt to taste. Add remaining chicken broth to cover squash. Simmer over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until pumpkin is just barely tender, 15 to 20 minutes.

  • Step 6

    Stir in remaining red onion, bell pepper, and green onions; cook for 2 minutes. Turn off the heat, and stir in 1/2 cup cilantro and 1/4 cup basil. Taste and adjust seasonings.

  • Step 7

    Ladle into bowls and garnish with more cilantro, basil, green onions, and serrano chiles. Squeeze lime juice into each bowl.

  • Chef's Notes:

    Don’t use low-fat coconut milk.

    The amount of curry paste you use will depend on the brand and strength; it could range from 1 teaspoon to 1/2 cup. You can find curry paste in almost any large grocery store.

    You can use any winter squash, like sugar pumpkin, pie pumpkin, kuri, kabocha, hubbard, etc. Do yourself a favor and try to find kabocha–it’s got an extremely pleasant taste with a subtly-sweet flavor, and retains a nice texture, even when fully cooked. Just don’t use a regular pumpkin, because those are very watery and almost tasteless.

    For a less brothy soup, don’t add the extra 2 cups chicken broth.

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