Latin Flavors: Butternut Squash Soup with a Brazilian Twist

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Winter squashes are abundant now, and one of the best ways to use them is in this extravagantly orange, velvety soup.  You could use kabocha, red kuri, buttercup or any sweet orange squash, but for this soup I used butternut because it is widely available–and it works wonderfully. There’s a whole family of soups made the same way: simmer a vegetable or vegetables in water or stock, purée, season, enrich with milk or cream.  This soup takes a Brazilian bent, because instead of cream, it is enriched with coconut milk. Cayenne pepper or chili flakes provoke a bit of heat, tomato adds sweetness and another layer of flavor, a squeeze of lime cools it down and adds a hint of tartness. Garnish with roasted corn and cilantro. Rich, sweet, tart, spicy all at once–I think you’re going to love this soup! Recipe after the jump…

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BRAZILIAN BUTTERNUT SQUASH SOUP

1 tablespoon canola or other light vegetable oil

1 small butternut squash (about 2 pounds), peeled, seeded and chopped

2 medium onions, peeled and chopped

1 medium sweet potato, peeled and chopped

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

1 pound ripe tomatoes, chopped (2-3 medium tomatoes)

4 cups soup stock* or water

pinch of cayenne or a sprinkling of red chili flakes (optional)

1 cup thick coconut milk

squeeze of fresh lime juice (preferably) or lemon juice

salt and freshly ground black pepper

2-3 tablespoons chopped cilantro for the garnish

Additional garnish: kernels from one ear of corn, cut from the cob, tossed with olive oil, lime juice, salt and pepper and roasted in a 400º F oven for 20-25 minutes (optional, but really good).

*To make a quick stock for this soup: bring 5-6 cups of water to a boil, reduce to simmer and add 1 teaspoon soy sauce, 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast, everything that you scoop out of the center of the butternut squash and the corn cob, if you do make roasted corn as a garnish.  Simmer for 30 minutes, strain.  You should have 4 cups of tasty stock.

For the soup:

1. Heat a large, thick-bottomed soup pot, add the oil and when it is hot, add the butternut squash, onions, sweet potato, the cumin and a tiny pinch of salt. Sauté, stirring frequently, for about 5 minutes.  Add the tomato and the cayenne or chili flakes, sauté a few minutes more.

2. Add the stock, turn heat to low and simmer for 30-40 minutes or until all the vegetables are very tender.

3. Purée in the pot with an immersion blender (preferably) or in small batches in a standard blender.  Caution, hot soup can burn! Use a towel to cover the top of the blender–if using a standard blender.

4. Return soup to the pot, add the coconut milk. Stir, and taste.  Add a little squeeze of lime juice, additional salt, black pepper or whatever is needed for well-balanced flavor.

5. Ladle into bowls and garnish with cilantro and the roasted corn (6-8 servings).


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