Squash Soup with Chili Puree Recipe

  • 5 pounds kabocha or butternut squash
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 1/4 pounds leeks
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh ginger
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 8 cups vegetable or fat-skimmed chicken broth
  • Salt and pepper
  • Sour cream
  • Chili puree (recipe follows) or chili powder
  • 10 dried New Mexico or California chilies (each about 4 in. long)
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 1/3 cup chopped shallots
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • Salt and pepper
  1. Rinse squash. With a large, heavy knife, cut in half lengthwise, using a mallet or hammer gently, if necessary, to force knife through squash. Scoop out and discard seeds. Brush cut surfaces with olive oil. Set squash cut side down in a 10- by 15-inch baking pan.
  2. Bake in a 375 degree regular or convection oven until squash is soft when pressed, 45 to 60 minutes. Reserve pan juices. Scoop flesh from peels (you should have about 5 cups) and discard peels.
  3. Meanwhile, trim and discard root ends and tough dark green tops from leeks. Cut leeks in half lengthwise and rinse thoroughly under cold running water, flipping layers to release grit. Chop leeks.
  4. In a 5- to 6-quart pan over medium-high heat, stir leeks, garlic, and ginger in butter until leeks begin to brown, 6 to 7 minutes. Add coriander, squash, reserved pan juices, and 5 cups broth. With a potato masher, mash squash. (Soup will be chunky; for a smoother texture, pour it into a large bowl, then puree in a blender, a portion at a time, and return to pan.) Thin with 1 to 4 more cups broth, if desired.
  5. Cover and heat soup until steaming. Add salt and pepper to taste. Ladle into bowls and garnish with a dollop of sour cream and a teaspoon or two of chili puree (or a sprinkling of chili powder).
  6. Chili Puree: Rinse chilies. Break off and discard stems and shake out as many seeds as you can. With scissors, cut chilies into 1/2-inch pieces and drop into a 1- to 2-quart pan. Add water, shallots, and ground cinnamon. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce heat, cover, and simmer until chilies are soft, 5 to 10 minutes. In a blender, whirl mixture until smooth. Press puree through a strainer set over a bowl. Stir in salt and pepper to taste. Makes 3/4 to 1 cup