- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1/4 cup vegetable oil
- 1 medium sweet onion, coarsely chopped (2 cups)
- 2 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced
- 2 tablespoons medium-hot Madras curry powder
- 7 pounds winter squash, such as butternut, buttercup or kabocha—peeled, seeded and cut into 1-inch chunks (about 16 cups)
- About 8 cups Rich Turkey Stock
- 3/4 pound sharp white Cheddar cheese, cut into twenty-four 1 1/2-inch squares 1/4 inch thick
- 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
- 2 tablespoons sliced blanched almonds
- Salt and freshly ground pepper
- In a large stockpot, melt the butter in the vegetable oil. Add the onion and garlic and cook over high heat, stirring, until softened but not browned, about 4 minutes. Add the curry and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add the squash and cook, stirring, for 4 minutes. Add 6 cups of the stock and bring to a boil. Cover and simmer over moderately low heat until the squash is tender, about 30 minutes.
- Meanwhile, arrange 4 of the Cheddar squares in a large nonstick skillet and cook undisturbed over moderate heat until bubbling, about 1 1/2 minutes. Sprinkle each square with a small pinch of the cumin seeds and 3 or 4 almond slices; cook until the edges are golden and the cheese is set, about 1 1/2 minutes longer. Using a thin spatula, flip the cheese crisps and cook until the almonds are lightly browned, about 20 seconds longer. Transfer to a baking sheet lined with paper towels and let cool until crisp. Wipe out the skillet and repeat with the remaining Cheddar, cumin seeds and almonds.
- Working in batches, puree the soup in a blender. Return the soup to the pot and gradually stir in about 2 cups of stock, until the soup has a silky, bisquelike consistency. Season with salt and pepper and keep warm over low heat.
- Ladle the soup into shallow bowls and pass the Cheddar crisps alongside for dipping or crumbling.
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Congratulations to Mei Lin, winner of Top Chef Season 12.