Author Notes: Lightly adapted from Deborah Madison's Vegetable Literacy. Key changes: 1) I have used her variation of simply roasting the squash (instead of peeling and chopping it). 2) Far less red chile. (If you like, feel free to add a couple more teaspoons.) What you want, as Madison stresses, is not chili powder, which is a blend, but pure ground chile. Look for a mild or medium ground chile; a hot chile will smother the other flavors here. Also, if you don't have any cheesecloth for the spice sachet, a folded and tied coffee filter will do the job. —Nicholas Day
- 2 pounds or more of winter squash
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 onion, chopped
- 2 tablespoons basil, chopped
- 1 tablespoon mint, chopped
- 1 3-inch cinnamon stick
- 1/2 teaspoon red chile powder
- 4 cups vegetable or chicken stock, or water
- 12 coriander seeds, 12 black peppercorns, and 4 whole cloves, all tied in a cheesecloth sachet
- 2 tablespoons heavy cream
- A handful of sliced mint for garnish
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Cut the squash in half, scoop out the seeds, and roast on a baking sheet until soft, about 35 minutes. After it cools slightly, measure out about 2 cups worth.
- In a soup pot, warm the oil over medium heat. Add the 2 cups of squash, onion, basil, and mint and cook, stirring frequently, for about five minutes. Then add the cinnamon stick and the chile powder, followed by the stock, the spice sachet, and salt to taste. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat to a simmer and cook, partially covered, for about 20 minutes, or until the flavors have melded.
- Remove the cinnamon stick and the spice sachet and puree until smooth. Reheat the soup gently, then stir in the cream. Serve with a topping of fresh mint.
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