This flavorful squash soup from James Beard award-winning Chef Rick Bayless gives warmth to any dinner. Apples bring a bright note to the nutty flavor of kuri squash, while ancho chilies add mild heat and a touch of smoke. Bayless is the proprietor of Chicago’s Frontera Grill, Xoco and the Michelin-starred Topolobampo. He recently opened a Chicago brewery and taqueria, Cervecería Cruz Blanca, as well as Leña Brava, which features the largest Mexican wine list in the United States.
- 1 medium kuri squash, about 3 pounds (may substitute sugar pumpkin)
- ¼ cup butter
- 2 medium yellow onions, sliced ¼-inch thick
- 2 dried ancho chilies, stemmed, seeded and torn into pieces
- 2 medium apples, peeled, cored and roughly chopped
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon, preferably freshly ground Mexican canela
- Salt, to taste
- Sugar, to taste
- Dried apple chips, for garnish
- Fried thyme leaves, for garnish
- Extra virgin olive oil, for garnish
Peel squash, chop off stem end and cut in half lengthwise. Scoop seeds into small bowl and reserve; pull out stringy fibers. Chop squash into 1-inch pieces, about 3 cups.
In medium (3-quart) saucepan over medium heat, melt butter. Add seeds and onions. Cook, stirring frequently, until onions are golden and seeds start to brown, about 10 minutes. Add chili pieces. Cook, stirring frequently, until fragrant and lightly toasted, 1–2 minutes. Add squash, apple, pepper, cinnamon and 1 quart water. Bring to boil, then reduce to simmer. Cook until very tender, about 30 minutes.
Ladle into blender, being careful not to fill all the way and working in batches if necessary, and blend until completely smooth. Pass soup through medium mesh strainer set over pot. Season to taste with salt and sugar. Divide among bowls. Top with apple, thyme leaves and a drizzle of olive oil. Serve warm. Serves 8.
A glass of bubbly poured from a magnum ensures all will participate in a holiday toast. J Vineyards & Winery’s 2009 Vintage Brut is a California sparkler that offers flavors of Granny Smith apple and strawberry, and a strong vein of minerality. The wine’s freshly baked bread note complements the slightly sweet flavor of squash, while lively acidity will hold its own against the heat of the chilies and the brightness of the apples.