Last February my sister brought me an entire case of acorn squash. Now, I absolutely love it but, it was February. It was a whole case. The holidays were over and, to be quite honest, I was sick of anything that required the addition of cinnamon, sugar, and whatever spice blazed a trail through Thanksgiving and Christmas. Faced with an entire case that was close to seeing better days, I gave as many away as I could, then hopped online to find something, anything, that wasn't sweet and "Holiday-ish". I came across a recipe over at The Traveler's Lunchbox, which had been adapted from Gourmet's October 2006 issue. Happy, happy, joy, joy! It was spicy!
So I made the recipe and was in Heaven. With it's spicy tart combination, I knew I wouldn't get sick of this anytime soon. I made, and ate quite a few.
My oldest daughter ended up coming over later in the day, and in her usual fashion, scoured the pantry and then proceeded to pour through the refrigerator. She pulled out the squash, heated some up, and while she was talking on her cell phone ( always, I tell you...) managed to utter a, "Wow, these are good", in between bites. When she finally removed the phone from her ear, she said, "You know, those were really good, but I think it would taste even better if you made it into a soup... and throw some chicken in it too!" Okay then.
The following day I played with acorn squash, using my daughters suggestions, and by adding the additional flavors of smoky paprika, cumin, a touch of Pinot Grigio, and half and half. The Tepin chiles are spicy, but if you use only the 3 whole ones that I have specified, you will find a spicy, pleasant flavor rather than heat. You can usually find the Tepin Chiles in the Hispanic food section of your local market, within the celophane bagged spices area, for around a dollar.
Topping off this soup with some additional cilantro, and a nice handful of crumbled cojita cheese, made this a fantastic addition to my line up of favorite fall soups!
3 large Acorn Squash, halved and seeds removed (approximately 6 c mashed)
Olive oil, for brushing
Kosher salt, to taste
Crushed black pepper, to taste
7 c chicken stock
2 Tbs Honey
1/3 c chopped fresh Cilantro
3 whole Tepin chiles, crushed
1/4 tsp Cumin
1/8 tsp Smoky Paprika
Juice of 1 large lime
3/4 c Half and Half
1/2 c Pinot Grigio (optional)
2 c shredded roast chicken
Cojita cheese, crumbled for garnish
Chopped cilantro, for garnish
Brush a baking sheet with olive oil or non-stick spray. Set aside. Brush halved acorn squash with olive oil. Season with kosher salt and pepper. Lightly sprinkle with smoky paprika. Place upside down on baking sheet and roast in oven at 375 F for approximately 35 to 40 minutes, until tender and can fluff with fork. Remove from oven and let cool slightly. After cooling, remove all squash from shell and place in a large stock pot. Mash with potato masher until somewhat smooth, leaving a few small chunks (I prefer a bit of texture). Add chicken broth, and combine. Place over medium heat, and add chopped cilantro, crushed tepin, cumin, paprika, and lime juice. Bring to a slight boil, stirring well, then reduce to a simmer. Blend in half and half. Add shredded roast chicken, and salt and pepper to taste. Serve garnished with Cojita cheese and chopped cilantro. Makes approximately 8 servings.