Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Butternut Squash Soup with Chipotle Chiles and Garlic

Butternut Squash Soup

Source: A Year in a Vegetarian Kitchen, by Jack Bishop

Butternut Squash Soup

1 large butternut squash (about 3 pounds)
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
4 medium garlic cloves, minced
2 small canned chipotle chiles in adobo sauce, minced, with 1 teaspoon adobo sauce (I used one and found it on the verge of being too hot)
5 cups water (I would probably use vegetable broth)

Paprika-Brown Sugar Croutons

2 slices sandwich bread, crusts removed, bread cut (I used whole grain sourdough)
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon sweet paprika
1/2 teaspoon light brown sugar

Minced fresh cilantro leaves for garnish (skipped)

1. For the soup: Halve the squash lengthwise. Use a spoon to scoop out and discard the strings and seeds. Cut the squash into pieces about the size of your hand. Remove the skin and a layer or two of flesh (you want to remove any whitish or green flesh beneath the skin) with a vegetable peeler or paring knife. Cut the peeled squash into 1-inch chunks.

2. Heat the oil and garlic in a Dutch oven over medium heat until the garlic is golden, about 2 minutes. Add the chiles and adobo sauce and cook just until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the squash and cook, stirring constantly, until coated with garlic and chiles, about 1 minute. Add the water and salt to taste and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat, cover, and simmer briskly until the squash is very tender, about 30 minutes.

3. Puree the soup in batches in a blender until very smooth. Adjust the seasonings, adding salt to taste. The soup can be refrigerated in an airtight container for several days. Warm over low heat.

4. For the croutons: While the soup is cooking, move an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 375 degrees. Toss the bread cubes, oil, paprika, brown sugar, and salt to taste in a small bowl until the bread is coated evenly with spices. Spread the bread cubes in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake, turning once, until the croutons are toasted and crisp, about 10 minutes.

5. To serve: Ladle the pureed soup into individual bowls. Sprinkle each bowl with a few croutons and some cilantro and serve.

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