For this soup--adapted from her 2013 book Vegetable Literacy--author Deborah Madison makes a quick stock from the trimmings of the main ingredients: She sets a pot with 5 cups of water on the stove, and as she chops, she tosses in the squash peels, pulp, and seeds; the ends of the onion; some basil and mint sprigs; and 1 tsp. each of coriander seeds and peppercorns. She lets it simmer, partly covered, and it's ready by the time she needs to strain it for the soup.
2 pounds smooth, dense winter squash, such as butternut, Rugosa, or Musque de Provence
2 tablespoons light sesame oil or olive oil
1 onion, chopped
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil or 2 tsp. dried
1 tablespoon chopped fresh mint or 1 tsp. dried
1 cinnamon stick (3 in. long)
About 1 tsp. sea salt
About 1 tbsp. ground dried New Mexico chiles* or 1/2 tsp. red chile flakes
4 cups quick vegetable stock (see headnote), chicken stock, or water
12 coriander seeds, 12 black peppercorns, and 4 cloves, tied in a cheesecloth sachet
2 tablespoons whipping cream
How to Make It
Peel squash and cut flesh into 1-in. cubes.
Heat oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add squash, onion, basil, and mint and cook, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes. Add cinnamon stick, 1 tsp. salt, and 1 tbsp. ground chiles, followed by 4 cups stock and the spice sachet. Bring to a boil, lower heat to a simmer, and cook, partly covered, until squash is tender, 20 to 25 minutes. Remove spice sachet and cinnamon stick.
In batches, purée soup in a blender. Season to taste with salt.
Ladle soup into bowls. Swirl 1 tsp. or so of cream into each, leaving it streaky. Finish each with a pinch of ground chiles.
*Ground dried New Mexico chiles are fruitier and milder than other powdered chiles, such as cayenne. Try well-stocked grocery stores, or order Los Chileros mild ground chile (chile molido) from loschileros.com.
Made per recipe and opted for olive oil rather than sesame at that option point and also opted to make the veggie stock per recipe note. Easy. Good enough to be glad I tried it once. Not so unique that it made it to the "keeper file" at home.
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