Burmese Coconut Squash Soup With Caramelized Onions

My parents had a Burmese friend (Burma is now Myanmar) who was a whirlwind in the kitchen. He would pile the kitchen counter with fresh herbs and rifle through the cupboards for every spice. He'd prepare six or seven vegetarian courses at once, each dish unique in its flavoring and texture. He never tasted as he cooked but judged each dish by its aroma. To this day, the smell of fried onions stirs memories of his garnish.  Most squash soups use cream, this one uses creamy coconut milk for a rich taste. It's thick and spicy, with the sweet caramelized onions on top. It needs a dry, acidic wine to balance the richness: pour the 2007 Scheid Sauvignon Blanc.
1/2 baked acorn squash (about 1 cup cooked)
4 Tbsp. olive oil, in two parts
2 Tbsp. butter
1/2 medium onion
1 tsp. sugar
1 tsp. dry ginger powder
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoons ground coriander
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 Tbsp. Thai fish sauce (use Burmese if you can get it)
1 cup coconut milk
1/2 tsp. vinegar
1/4 cup water
1/2 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. white pepper
Cut the squash in half and scoop out the seeds and pulp. Put cut side down of one half of the squash on a sheet of aluminum foil on a pan and bake about 1 hour at 350 degrees or until flesh is soft when pierced with a cooking fork.  Remove from oven and let cool until you can scoop the cooked squash into a food processor.  While waiting, thinly slice the onion (1/8" slices). Put 2 Tbsp. oil plus the butter into a saucepan and heat for a minute over medium heat, then add the onion and sauté them until translucent, stirring or flipping continuously so they brown evenly. You may need to lower the heat to keep the onions cooking and their liquid evaporating without burning. When they are golden brown, sprinkle with sugar and continue cooking and stirring until they are deep brown. Spread on 4 layers of paper towel when done. Film 2 Tbsp. oil in a saucepan and cook the ginger, garlic, chili, coriander and turmeric for a couple of minutes over low heat. Add the fish sauce, coconut milk, water, vinegar and pepper. Tip: shake the can of coconut milk well before opening as it usually separates. Bring to a low boil for two minutes. Carefully pour into the food processor. Mix on "liquefy" until smooth.  Taste, and then add salt,  adjusting the  seasonings, adding more chili if you like it spicy.  Some fish sauce is saltier than others, so the amount of salt will vary according to the sauce used and your taste.  Serve in small bowls, topped with the sweet carmelized onions. Makes 4 servings.

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