Wednesday, November 26, 2008
Day 5: Chocolate, Chili, Butternut Squash soup
A couple of years ago, I took a butternut squash recipe I found on Recipe Zaar and added and subtracted some ingredients until I got this absolutely delicious soup. I think what really makes this soup tasty is the chili peppers and dark chocolate, which enhances the sweetness of the butternut squash and gives a little spicy kick. My husband is absolutely hooked on this soup. As soon as butternut squash arrives on the shelves or at the market in the fall, we immediately think of the soup, and greet it with the same enthusiasm one showers upon a long lost friend.
Now, I will forewarn you that the color is not exactly eye catching. It's pretty much a light brown due to the dark chocolate. But trust me when I say one spoonful will be enough for you to forget about the appearance, and focus on the beauty on the "inside". The smell alone emitting from the oven as the squash roasts in maple syrup, chocolate, garlic, nutmeg and cinnamon is enough to get you salivating. You could always gussy it up with a dollop of creme fraiche, or sour cream if your grocery store sucks as much as mine does.
A little back ground information about butternut squash, it is part of the winter squash family. Squash is typically divided in three categories: summer squash, autumn squash and winter squash. Depending if the fruit is harvested immature (summer squash) or mature (winter squash). An example of summer squash is zucchini with its soft skin, it can be eaten without cooking. Winter squash is harvested at the end of the summer, and it has a hard skin and generally require a longer cooking time than summer squash.
This is way you must roast the bejesus out of it. When it is undercooked it is almost impossible to remove the innards from the squash. I recommend that you test the squash with a fork in the thickest part to make sure it is done, or you will struggle, and possibly send chunks of bright orange matter all over the kitchen.
Chocolate, chili, butternut squash soup
by Krystal Ford
1 butternut squash
4 garlic cloves
2 tablespoons of maple syrup
1 red chili pepper (fresh)
2 squares of dark chocolate (70% or higher)
1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon of nutmeg
salt to taste
fresh ground pepper
2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup diced onions (mild ones)
4 cups chicken stock
1/2 cup of cream ( I used 15% fat)
1. Cut squash in half lengthwise and remove seeds
2. Cover squash with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper
liberally, and sprinkle nutmeg and cinnamon over squash. Add maple
syrup, garlic cloves (smashed), chocolate squares, and half chili
pepper in each cavity. Place in 350 oven and bake for about 50-60
minutes until squash is cooked. Spoon out the cooked squash and its
extras and set aside.
3. Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat and saute onions until soft.
4. Add the chicken stock and bring to a boil. Simmer for several
minutes. Stir in the squash until smooth, then simmer gently to let
the flavors meld (aprox 10 minutes)
5. Puree the soup in the blender (or with a stick blender) until smooth.
6. Return soup to pan and reheat gently and add the cream.