Crema de Calabaza (Butternut Squash Soup)
with Chocolate-Chipotle Croutons
1/2 of a poblano chili, stemmed, seeded, and membranes removed
1 pound butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cut in 1-inch cubes
1 pound white onions, peeled, and cut into 1-inch cubes
3 cloves garlic, peeled
1-1/2 inches Mexican stick cinnamon or other stick cinnamon, broken
2 tablespoons grated piloncillo (Mexican brown sugar) or
packed brown sugar
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 whole allspice
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
1 sprig fresh thyme
2 cups vegetable stock or broth
1 cup milk
1/8 teaspoon grated fresh nutmeg
Kosher salt (optional)
1 Recipe Chocolate-Chipotle Croutons
Grated Oaxacan or other Mexican chocolate
Preheat oven to 425°F. Place pepper half, cut side down, on foil-lined baking sheet. Roast 20 to 25 minutes or until skin is blistered. Bring foil up around pepper. Let stand 15 minutes. Loosen edges of the skin with a sharp knife; gently pull off skin and discard. Set pepper aside. Reduce oven temperature to 325°.
With vegetable peeler, remove orange peel from half of orange in large strips; squeeze 1/4 cup juice from orange and reserve. In mixing bowl combine orange peel, orange juice, squash, onion, garlic, cinnamon, piloncillo, olive oil, allspice, 1 tablespoon salt, peppercorns and thyme. Place in small roasting pan. Roast, uncovered, 50 to 60 minutes or until squash is tender, stirring twice. Cool slightly; discard orange peel, thyme stem, and cinnamon, if desired.
In blender combine squash mixture, vegetable stock, and roasted poblano; cover; blend until almost smooth. Transfer to large saucepan; add milk. Cook and stir until heated through. Add nutmeg and additional kosher salt, if needed.
To serve, top with croutons and grated chocolate.
Photograph: Peter Krumhardt
Preheat oven to 350°F. Cut 4 ounces purchased brioche bread into 1/2- to 3/4-inch cubes. Place in parchment paper-lined 13x9x2-inch baking pan. Bake, uncovered, 12 minutes, stirring twice. In saucepan melt 3 tablespoons unsalted butter. Stir in 1/8 teaspoon ground chipotle chili pepper and bread cubes; stir to coat. Return to baking pan. Bake 6 minutes more, stirring once. Transfer to large mixing bowl. Gradually sprinkle 2 tablespoons grated Mexican chocolate over croutons, tossing to coat. Makes 2-1/2 cups croutons.