Roasted Butternut Squash Soup with Poblano Crema
Want to wow your guests this holiday season? This squash soup adds a tasty twist to a perennial favorite and is a visually stunning way to start the meal.
Yield: 6-8 Servings
One 3-lb. butternut squash (or 2 small 1.5 lb. squashes), halved vertically and seeded
5-6 tsp. (35-30 ml) olive oil or melted butter, divided
Freshly ground pepper
2 small poblano peppers, rinsed and dried
2 whole, unpeeled garlic cloves
½ cup (67 g) diced yellow onion
1 tsp. ground coriander
½ tsp. ground cumin
½ tsp. chili powder
¼ tsp. smoked paprika
⅛ tsp. dried ancho powder (can substitute cayenne)
1 Tbsp. minced garlic
Scant 2 tsp. (10 g) coconut or brown sugar
3-4 cups (24-32 fl. oz.) low sodium vegetable or chicken stock, divided
Juice of 1 lime (1 Tbsp.), divided, zest reserved for garnish
½ cup sour cream or dairy-free alternative
2 -3 tsp (10-15 ml) buttermilk
Cilantro leaves and toasted pepitas (pumpkin seeds) for garnish
The Modern Loaf plain or seeded sourdough for serving
Preheat oven to 450. Oil one large and one small rimmed baking sheet (or line with parchment paper).
Rub the cut side of each half of squash with just enough olive oil to lightly coat the surface. Rub the oil over the inside of the squash and season with a generous sprinkle of salt and a couple of turns of black pepper. Turn the squash cut-side down on the pan. Place the poblanos on the second sheet pan, and wrap the unpeeled garlic cloves tightly in a piece of foil. Transfer both pans to the oven and set the wrapped garlic directly on one of the oven racks.
Roast the poblanos for 10-15 minutes, turning occasionally, until nicely charred on all sides. Remove the poblanos from oven and transfer them to a heat-proof bowl. Cover with plastic wrap or a dinner plate and let the peppers steam while you proceed with the soup base. Check on the garlic. If it’s soft, remove it from the oven to cool. If it is still firm, leave it in to continue roasting with the squash
Roast the squash for another 35-45 minutes (less for small squash) until tender and completely cooked through. The tip of a knife should slide through the skin into the thickest part of the squash like it would through softened butter. Set the squash and garlic cloves aside to cool.In a m
While the vegetables are roasting, prepare the soup base: In a 3-quart (or larger) stock pot or dutch oven, warm 2 teaspoons oil or butter over medium heat until shimmering. Add the onion and a pinch of salt and cook for 4-5 minutes until softened and translucent, stirring frequently. Don’t brown the onion. Add 2 more teaspoons of oil or butter to the pot along with the coriander, cumin, chili powder, smoked paprika, and ancho powder. Fry the spices with the onion for 1 minute, stirring frequently, until toasted and fragrant. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. If the squash is still in the oven or out but too hot to handle yet, move the pot off the heat until ready to proceed.
Scoop the tender flesh of the squash out of the skin and add it directly to the pot (discard the skin). Add the sugar, 1 teaspoon salt, several grinds of pepper, and 2 ½ cups (20 fl. oz) stock. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer for 5 minutes. Stir in 1 teaspoon lime juice, remove the pot from the heat and let cool while making the crema.
Make the poblano crema: Rub the peel off the peppers and discard along with the stem. Slice the peppers open, and remove and discard the seeds and any stringy ribs. Cut half of one pepper into very small dice (⅛ inch) for garnish, and refrigerate until ready to serve.
Roughly chop remaining peppers and add to a small food processor, blender, or the cup of an immersion blender along with the sour cream. Squeeze in the roasted garlic, add ½ teaspoon lime juice, a pinch of salt and a grind or two of pepper and 2 teaspoons buttermilk, and blend or process until smooth. Taste and add more salt, pepper and/or lime juice if desired. Add the remaining teaspoon buttermilk if you want a thinner crema. Strain though a fine-mesh sieve into a bowl, container or squeeze bottle. Cover and chill until ready to use.
Finish the soup: If you have an immersion blender you can puree the soup directly in the pot. If not, transfer the contents of the pot to the container of a blender, secure the lid, and cover the lid with a kitchen towel (if the contents are still very hot this will prevent steam from escaping and burning you). Hold the towel in place and turn on the blender, starting at low speed. Increase speed gradually to high and puree the soup until smooth. CAREFULLY remove the lid and check the thickness of the soup, blending in additional stock in ¼ cup increments until you achieve the desired consistency. Taste and season with additional salt, pepper and/or lime juice if desired. Return soup to pot and heat through before serving, or transfer to containers and refrigerate for up to 5 days or freeze for up to 4 months.
For serving: Ladle soup into bowls, drizzle with poblano crema, and sprinkle with reserved diced poblano, toasted pepitas, and lime zest. Serve with The Modern Loaf plain or seeded sourdough.