Wednesday, February 3, 2010
Hi folks. I hope you're all having a kickin' Wednesday. It's Day Three of our soup week, and things are really starting to heat up. Today we're going south of the border with a Rick Bayless-inspired recipe from my dear friend Hillary. Hillary and I hit it off the first time we met one another (in line at culinary school registration, to be specific.) As it turned out, we had tons in common. We were both blogging about food, we both loved to consume, think about, and talk about food, and we were both willing to take a series of buses and trains to get to a new bakery that just opened all the way on the other side of town. And though we've only known each other for the past 7 months, it feels as though it's been decades. Hillary has joined me on a number of culinary adventures (two of which are chronicled here and here), and I'm sure there will be many more to come. Everyone, let's welcome Hillary!
What is the name of your soup?
Roasted Butternut Squash Soup with Apples and Chipotle (adapted from Rick Bayless)
Why do you love this soup? Do you remember the first time you tried it? Do you have a story about this soup?
I watched Chicago super-chef (and personal culinary idol) Rick Bayless demonstrate how to make this soup at Chicago's wonderful Green City Market just before Thanksgiving. He told the crowd he was making the soup as a first-course for his Thanksgiving dinner, and gave a lot of great information about the ingredients, detailing different varieties of squash and chili peppers. And then we tasted it. The flavor profile was unforgettable: first, you get the sweetness of the apples; then, your mouth is coated in nutty, velvety squash; and finally, the heat of the chipotles hits the back of your throat and rounds it all out. I have to admit that, until recently, I haven't been a squash fan, but a soup this good has changed my mind.
Would you recommend serving your soup along side something else? At a certain time of day? In a certain type of weather?
This soup is great for fall and winter, since squash and apples are still plentiful during those chilly seasons. Since this soup has Mexican flair, it's fun to serve with quesadillas or chips and salsa/guacamole. Even though it's great on its own, it would also go well as a first course before a hearty meat dish. I discovered that crumbled goat cheese makes an excellent garnish too!
Anything else we should know about your soup?
It's a phenomenal way to turn an otherwise intimidating squash into a luxurious cold-weather treat. And I promise that even though I've now had some culinary training, this is a soup that anyone can put together.
1/4 cup olive oil
3 teaspoons ground cinnamon (preferably Mexican cinnamon), divided
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1 large (about 5 pounds) butternut squash, split in half lengthwise, seeds removed and discarded
3 carrots, roughly diced
1 large white onion, roughly diced
2 firm, cooking apples, like Granny Smith, peeled, cored and cut into eighths
2 quarts chicken broth
3 to 4 canned chipotle chiles en adobo, seeds scraped out, roughly chopped
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cubed
1/2 teaspoon chipotle powder (I used Texas chili powder; you can also add a little adobo sauce from the canned chipotles)
1 tablespoon sugar
About 10 ounces firm-textured day-old bread, crusts removed, cut into 1-inch cubes (7 cups)
2-3 rimmed baking sheets (lined with foil)
Large 6-quart soup pot
Blender (immersion blender would be best; can also be blended in batches using standard blender)
Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
In a large bowl, mix the olive oil, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, cumin, and 3/4 teaspoon salt. Brush about a third of the mixture over the cut edges of the squash, letting some pool in the cavities. Place cut side down onto a rimmed baking sheet lined with foil. Scoop the carrots, onions and apples into the bowl and toss to coat. Spread onto a separate foil-lined rimmed baking sheet. Slide both sheets into the oven and roast for about 40 to 50 minutes or until the onion mixture is golden brown and the squash is soft. (Can put squash in the oven before vegetables if ready first, since it can use a little more time). Halfway through the cooking time, stir the onion mixture. Remove from the oven and reduce the temperature to 350 degrees.
Scoop the onion mixture into a large (6-quart) soup pot. Hold the squash with a baking mitt, and using a large spoon, scrape out the squash flesh and add it to the pot along with the chipotles, 1 teaspoon salt and 1 teaspoon cinnamon (can add a dash of cayenne pepper if desired). Pour in the chicken broth and stir to combine. Cook over medium heat for about 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a large microwave safe bowl, add the butter, chipotle powder, remaining 1 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and the sugar. Microwave on high for 1 minute until the butter has melted, stir. Scoop in the cubed bread and toss to coat. Spread onto a foil-lined rimmed baking sheet and bake for 10 to 12 minutes until the croutons are golden brown and crisp. Set aside.
After 30 minutes, transfer the soup, in batches, into a blender and puree until smooth (or use immersion blender to puree soup inside pot). Return to the pot and bring back to a simmer. Taste and adjust the seasoning with salt, usually another teaspoon. Ladle into soup bowls and garnish with seasoned croutons.