Butternut Squash and Pork Soup with Fish Sauce and Tender Herbs


In Vietnam, kabocha squash is simmered with pork to make a soup called canh bi do thit heo. This riff on that classic dish swaps in mild butternut, which holds its shape well and absorbs the rich flavors of the broth and pork while cooking quickly. Filled with tender ground pork marinated in fish sauce and sugar, this aromatic, brothy soup comes together in under an hour for a light and satisfying meal.

Butternut Squash and Pork Soup with Fish Sauce and Tender Herbs
Photo: Photo by Jennifer Causey / Food Styling by Chelsea Zimmer / Prop Styling by Christina Daley
Active Time:
45 mins
Total Time:
55 mins


  • 12 ounces 80% lean ground pork

  • 1 teaspoon fish sauce (such as Red Boat)

  • 1 teaspoon granulated sugar

  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt, divided

  • ½ teaspoon black pepper, divided

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil

  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter

  • 1 large shallot, finely chopped (about 1/3 cup)

  • 2 large garlic cloves, minced

  • 6 cups water

  • 1 (1 1/2-pound) butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces (5 to 6 cups)

  • Chopped fresh cilantro, chopped fresh Thai basil, and sliced red Fresno chile (optional), for serving


  1. Stir together pork, fish sauce, sugar, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper in a medium bowl until combined. Let stand at room temperature 10 minutes.

  2. Heat oil and butter in a large saucepan over medium-high. Add shallot and garlic; cook, stirring often, until tender, about 3 minutes. Add pork mixture; cook, stirring to break up into small pieces, about 1 minute. Add 6 cups water; bring to a gentle boil over medium-high. Boil, skimming surface of any foam or impurities, until broth is clear, about 3 minutes.

  3. Add squash, remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, and remaining 1/4 teaspoon black pepper to mixture in saucepan; reduce heat to medium-low. Cook, stirring occasionally, until squash is tender, 20 to 25 minutes. Remove from heat. Ladle soup evenly into 4 bowls. Top with cilantro, Thai basil, and chile slices, if desired.

Suggested Pairing

Earthy but light-bodied red: Errázuriz Max Pinot Noir

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