Peggy Lampman's Thursday dinnerFeed: Southwest Butternut Squash and Apple Soup
Southwest Butternut Squash Soup
Maybe it's the recipe for Corn-Bread, Chipotle and Smoked Paprika stuffing that sounds so tasty. Or, perhaps, the Adobo Blend rub I plan to rub into the turkey. But for the first time in 30 years, I’m messing with my family’s traditional Thanksgiving dinner. Putting chipotles and cumin into our traditional Butternut Squash and Apple Soup is just the beginning.
My intention is not to upset the apple cart. The Thanksgiving recipe wheel does not require reinvention, much less an additional spin. It’s just that (yawn) I’ve been making the same dishes for more than 30 years.
Recipe ennui may not be enough to appease my family. Hispanic-inspired recipe twists could be interpreted as treason amongst my troops. I'll require further ammunition, defaulting to history to defend the Thanksgiving upset.
According to many websites, including Texas Almanac History Sites, the first North American Thanksgiving tradition was celebrated by Spanish explorers in northern Mexico in 1598. (Granted, I'm stretching borders to make a point. But back then, America's borders were a bit sketchy.)
At that time Spanish King Felipe II created an incentive for explorers to launch expeditions into Mexico. The Spanish called Mexico the “New Spain”, and they went to seek wealth and elevate their prestige with the Spanish crown. The survival of the expedition sparked a celebration.
According to the website, a member of the expedition wrote of the original celebration, "We built a great bonfire and roasted the meat and fish, and then all sat down to a repast the like of which we had never enjoyed before..."
There are other's who also claim title to The First Thanksgiving. According to Wikipedia, although Americans commonly believe the first Thanksgiving happened in 1621 at Plymouth Plantation in Massachusetts, there is strong evidence for earlier celebrations in Canada and Florida.
Last night I was having dinner with my husband and son. When I announced my plans to switch recipes, Zan (my son), grabbed his phone. "I'm texting Greta (his sister). You're going to break her little heart if you don't make the wild rice stuffing and mashed potato casserole." Hubbie Richard piped in. "The old Thanksgiving recipes bring back happy memories for me."
A certain verse is replaying in my mind like a broken record: "If you can't please everyone, you've got to please yourself." A pot luck is sounding better by the minute.
Back to the soup. The addition of chipotles and cumin lend subtle smokiness and complexity to this savory seasonal soup. They can, however, be omitted, and you'll still have a delicious brew. Another appealing characteristic of the soup is it can be made 48 hours in advance. All cinnamon is not created equal. I couldn't find Mexican cinnamon so used a Vietnamese cinnamon ($3.29 per ounce) purchased at Kerrytown's Spice Merchants. This cinnamon is my secret weapon in the soup-the flavor has much broader depth than if I'd used a generic one.
It's a good feeling purchasing locally-grown butternut squash and apples from the Farmers Market or other groceries with a local focus; you've no messy carbon-footprint to worry about. But when the clock's a tickin', pre-peeled, cut and seeded squash is a temptation.
And what I am most grateful for this Thanksgiving? That I live in a town where borders are meant to be crossed. And, most importantly, my family, friends and community savor the ride.
Yield: 10-12 cups thick soup
Active Time: 40 minutes
Roast Time: 25 minutes
Simmer Time: 20 minutes
2-3 medium-sized butternut squash (approx. 5 pounds), peeled, seeded and cubed
2 tablespoons canola or vegetable oil
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 leeks, well-washed and cut into 1/4-inch coins (2 cups)
3 large carrots, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch coins (2 cups)
2 teaspoons cumin
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon*
1/2-1 tablespoon minced chipotle pepper in adobo sauce (1-2 peppers from can)
3 Ida or Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and cubed
6 cups vegetable or chicken stock
Sour Cream or Creme Fraiche, optional garnish
*Mexican or Vietnamese cinnamon preferred
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Cover two baking sheets with foil.
2. Toss squash with oil and spread a single layer of squash on prepared baking sheets. Roast until just tender, about 25 minutes.
3. Melt the butter in a large heavy-bottomed stockpot or Dutch oven. SautÃ© leeks and carrots until beginning to soften, about 5 minutes.
4. Stir in cumin, cinnamon and chipotle and combine with vegetables. Stir in apples and cook 1 minute. Stir in stock, roasted squash and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer and cook until all vegetables are very tender, about 15 minutes.
5. Transfer the mixture in batches to a food processor. Process until smooth. Season to taste with kosher salt and additional chipotle, if desired. (This can be made up to 48 hours in advance, then reseasoned before serving.) Swirl creme fraiche or sour cream into soup immediately before serving, if desired.