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
or more of winter squash
3-inch cinnamon stick
red chile powder
vegetable or chicken stock, or water
12 coriander seeds, 12 black peppercorns, and 4 whole cloves, all tied in a cheesecloth sachet
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.