We’re just on the cusp of fall weather here. Leaves are starting to fall, but we still have at least another week of seventy degree days. I’m soaking up the best of both worlds while I can by taking Cookie on long walks during lunchtime and breaking out my favorite jackets in the evening.
I got so excited a couple of weeks ago when Adrianna of A Cozy Kitchen’s new book, The Year of Cozy, landed on my doorstep. It’s a beautifully designed and photographed book filled with recipes and crafts for every month. The whole book is geared around making the most of each month (and making the most of life, really).
The book isn’t about adding more to the monthly to-do list, but about finding comfort from the stresses of everyday life in fun little side projects. I love it. As if it could get any better, she included plenty of pictures of her corgi, Amelia, and even a recipe for dog doughnuts and a dip-dyed rope dog leash. Cookie approves.
I found this spicy squash soup in the October chapter of the book, which is where the book begins. I was torn between this soup and her recipe for chocolate peanut butter cups, which I’ve always wanted to make. I’ve been battling a sore throat, though, so soup won. I don’t know if it was the soup or the nine hours of sleep that followed, but I’m cured!
Adrianna titled this soup “Chorizo”-Spiced Squash Soup, which I am sure is a more accurate title, but… I never liked sausage, even when I ate meat, so I can neither confirm nor deny the flavor connection. Basically, she uses spices found in chorizo to flavor the soup, including chile powder, cumin, oregano and coriander. Squash really needs some spice since it’s not super flavorful on its own, and I can confirm that Adrianna’s choice of spices are perfect here.
Adrianna suggests serving this soup with toasted bread to make it a full meal. A side salad would be great as well (maybe this one?). It’s light but comforting, just perfect for getting cozy as the temperatures cool down.
- 1 large acorn squash, halved and seeds scooped out
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 shallot, finely chopped
- 1 clove garlic, pressed or minced
- 1 cup canned pumpkin purée
- 1 teaspoon salt plus more, to taste
- 1 teaspoon ancho chile powder or regular chile powder
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
- Teeny pinch of ground cloves
- 3 cups vegetable broth or water
- Juice from 1/2 lemon
- 1/4 cup pepitas (green pumpkin seeds)
- 1/2 teaspoon olive oil
- 1/4 teaspoon ancho chile powder or regular chile powder
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
- Pinch of ground coriander
- Salt, to taste
- 3 tablespoons crème fraîche (optional, replace with a tiny splash of olive oil for vegan/dairy-free soup)
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Place the squash, cut sides down, on the baking sheet and roast for about 30 minutes, or until mostly tender. Let the squash cool for a few minutes, then scoop the flesh into a small bowl and discard the skin. (There might be some bits of squash that aren't completely cooked, but don't worry, the rest will cook in the pot with the broth.)
- In a medium pot or Dutch oven, warm the oil over medium heat until shimmering. Add the shallot and cook until softened, about 2 minutes. Add the garlic, reserved squash, pumpkin, 1 teaspoon salt, chile powder, cumin, oregano, coriander and cloves. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes, until the spices are fragrant.
- Pour in the vegetable broth or water and lemon juice. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat and cook for about 10 minutes, or until the squash is completely softened.
- Using an immersion blender, blend the soup until smooth, about 30 seconds to 1 minute. If you don't have a blender, just transfer the soup, in batches, to a blender (do not overfill!). Securely fasten the blender's lid and use a kitchen towel to protect your hand from steam escaping from the top of the blender as you purée the mixture until smooth. Transfer puréed soup to a serving bowl and repeat with remaining batches.
- Return the soup to the pot and set it over low heat to keep it warm. Taste the soup and add more salt until the spices really sing, around 1/2 teaspoon for vegetable broth or 1 teaspoon if you used water.
- To prepare the garnish: In a small skillet over medium heat, add the pepitas, olive oil, chile powder, cumin, coriander and a pinch of salt. Toss to combine and toast for 3 to 5 minutes, or until the pepitas' edges are turning lightly golden brown.
- Divide the soup among bowls and drizzle a bit of crème fraîche (my crème fraîche was super thick, so I tempered it with a little splash of soup so it would drizzle better) or olive oil on top. Top with a sprinkle of pepitas and serve.
Change it up: I bet a small butternut squash or even some delicata squash would be a great substitute for the acorn squash. Shoot for 1 1/2 to 2 pounds squash.