Curried Butternut Squash Soup
I could blather on about butternut squash soup and paint a pretty picture of chopping farm fresh vegetables in the warmth of a cozy kitchen while the cold winds blow outside in the blueness of Winter but I know what you really want is the recipe, right? So, without further adieu, I present you the...
1 large butternut squash (about 3 lbs)
2-3 slices thick cut smoked bacon, diced
1 medium onion, chopped
1 medium carrot, peeled and chopped
1 celery stock, chopped
4-6 garlic cloves, chopped
1 poblano chili, roasted and skin removed
1 yellow bell pepper, roasted and skin removed
4 cups chicken stock or water
2 bay leaves
1 kaffir lime leaf (not essential but it give it a Thai flavor)
1 TB madras curry powder
1 tsp smoked paprika
2 tsp kosher salt or to taste
ROAST THE SQUASH - Preheat oven to 400˚
With a sharp chef's knife halve the squash lengthwise. Scoop out the seeds and (toast them for a snack!) or discard. Place the halves cut side up on a rimmed baking sheet or in a roasting pan, drizzle with olive oil and season with salt. Bake for about an hour or until flesh is very tender when pierced with a knife. Once the squash is cool enough to handle scrape out the flesh and set aside.
While the squash is roasting char the peppers over an open flame or under a broiler until the skin blackens. Place peppers in a container, bag or bowl covered with a plate and steam for about five minutes. Rub off skin under running water then chop and set aside.
Heat a dutch oven or heavy bottomed pot to medium and add the bacon and cook until browned. Remove all but a tablespoon of fat then add the carrots, celery, onion, peppers and garlic. Saute until softened then add the spices and cook a minute or two, stirring constantly.
Add the squash, bay leaves, kaffir if using, and chicken stock or water. Bring to a boil then reduce to a medium simmer. Cook for about 45 minutes or until flavors develop and everything is nice a soft.
Once you're happy with the flavor, remove the kaffir and bay leaves and process with an immersion blender or whiz the soup in a blender or food processor until smooth. There's no rule you have to do this if you'd prefer it chunky. It's a very forgiving soup! Adjust salt at this point and serve with a dollop of crema (Mexican sour cream) or just regular sour cream. A sprinkling of fresh cilantro would be great...or nothing at all. It's up to you! Pictured, it was served with hot Italian sausage and collard greens (what I had on hand) but most of the time I like to eat it with toasted home baked sourdough bread topped with mashed avocado. Makes a healthy satisfying meal. Enjoy!