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Butternut Squash and Toasted Chile Soup

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I have a favorite butternut squash soup that I make multiple times each fall, a sort of stand-by that’s always guaranteed to be delicious. This is comforting because I can wing the recipe more or less and adjust seasonings depending on how much squash I have on hand and it’s always consistently satisfying. Every time. This was not that time.

This time, I wanted new flavors and a refreshing twist on my classic. I was craving toasty, smokey flavors and created this variation that’s just as good, dare I say better? It’s naturally sweet from the butternut squash with the addition of dried chiles to compliment that sweetness of the squash. They paired amazingly well. The addition of cumin and paprika rounded out the flavor profile and added a subtle smokiness. Just right for these cooler November nights we’ve been enjoying.

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Butternut Squash Soup:

serves 6-8 as a first course or 4 as a main course

2 butternut squashes, peeled and cubed

1 onion, rough chopped

3 cloves garlic, crushed

8 cups chicken stock, vegetable stock, or water

1 dried chile California, toasted, seeds removed and crumbled

1 dried chile Negro, toasted, seeds removed and crumbled

1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin

3 teaspoons salt (more or less to taste)

2 sprigs fresh thyme

1 tablespoon olive oil

Garnishes:

2 tablespoons pumpkin seeds, toasted

chili oil

sauteed corn

sour cream

In a large stock pot, heat olive oil and add squash, onion, and garlic. Cook on medium heat, stirring frequently to prevent browning for 5-8 minutes just to soften the onions. Add the cumin, salt, and toasted chiles and stir until incorporated.

Add all of the liquid (chicken or vegetable stock or water) and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and add the thyme. Place the lid loosely over the pot, leaving a little opening for steam to escape. Simmer for 30 minutes.

Puree in a blender or with an immersion blender when soup cools down enough to handle.

Ladle into bowls and garnish with a teaspoon of sour cream, a spoonful of sauteed corn, a sprinkle of pumpkin seeds, and a drizzle of chile oil.

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