Spicy Acorn Squash and Apple Soup

My husband said this soup is sophisticated and my friend Michelle said it was comforting. I couldn’t have said it better myself — It truly is both! The smell of the roasted squash and pepitas (pumpkin seeds) in our home was wonderful. This soup makes a wonderful first course for entertaining and would be a wonderful addition to your Thanksgiving menu. Serve it in pumpkins and your guests will really be talking.

It’s spicy, but not too spicy. The next time I make it I plan to double the amount of chile, but that’s just me. This soup experiment turned out to be silky smooth in texture with spicy warm flavors, exactly what I was craving. Add some crusty bread and it’s very satisfying.

Makes: 8 servings

Roasting Squash

Ingredients

2 quartered acorn or other small winter squash
1 stick, unsalted butter
2 teaspoons sea salt

Directions

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Carefully cut each squash into quarters. Slice a piece of butter and place on each piece of squash, sprinkle with salt, and place on a foil lined baking sheet skin sides down. Roast for one hour or until the squash is tender.

When the squash is cool enough to handle scoop it into a bowl and reserve. Warning: This part is kinda messy.

Soup

Ingredients

¼ cup pepitas (pumpkin seeds), toasted

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 chopped leek (white part only)

½ chopped white onion

½ cup diced celery

1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger

1 clove garlic, minced

2 pasilla or ancho chiles, stemmed, seeded, and torn into large pieces

1 (14-ounce) can vegetable broth

Water (depending on desired thickness)

1 granny smith apple, cored, and chopped

¼ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon black pepper

1 teaspoon grated orange peel

1 cup crema Mexicana for garnish (optional)

Paprika powder for garnish (optional)

Directions

In a dry skillet toast the pepitas for about 5 minutes or until they start to pop. Set aside to cool off and reserve.

Heat the olive oil in a caldero (soup pot) over medium heat. Add the leek, onion, celery, ginger, garlic, and chile pieces. Stir frequently, until the onion is tender and translucent, about 5 to 6 minutes.

Add the broth, squash, and apple. Bring the broth to a simmer over medium-low heat and cook for about 20 minutes.

Remove from the heat and puree with a hand blender, you should have a very thick base at this point. Now add water a cup at a time pureeing between additions until the soup is the consistency you desire. Bring up to a simmer again and season the soup as needed with salt, pepper, and orange peel.

If you chose to serve this soup in pumpkins like I did, wash the pumpkins with water, rinse thoroughly, and pat dry. Carve a lid off the top and remove the seeds from inside. I broiled my pumpkins for 5 to 10 minutes while the soup was simmering, but this step is not necessary.

Place each pumpkin onto a plate and fill them with soup topped with a dollop of crema, a sprinkle of paprika, and pepitas if desired.

Photography by Jeanine Thurston