Tasting, testing and redefining have consumed most of the last week in my kitchen. Long ago, we established the traditional favorites that will not budge from our menu. However, as Thanksgiving approaches, my ongoing challenge to find something new to serve the guests who enjoy our feast year after year thrives.
Last year, in my search for a new flavor combination for Thanksgiving, I experimented with a favorite Mexican recipe for Chile Rellenos. As odd sounding as the combination of sweet butternut squash and piquant Poblano peppers might seem, this recipe was a hit. You can find it here: Thanksgiving Fusion
This year, the same culinary quest compelled me to create new items that will surprise and delight our guests as they discover new tastes at our buffet.
Finally, this past weekend, I came up with a novel twist on my traditional Curried Butternut Squash Soup. I’ve turned it into a Mexican Green Chile & Butternut Squash Soup!
Mexican Green Chile & Butternut Squash Soup
1 ½ lb. butternut squash, roasted
2 roasted, chopped, green chilies
(any favorite: Anaheim, California, Poblano-you get
1 ½ Tablespoons vegetable oil
1 ½ Tablespoons unsalted butter
1 large onion, diced small
2 large carrots, diced
1 celery rib, sliced
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 Tablespoons masa harina
(if you can’t get it fresh, substitute crushed tortilla
chips or flour)
10 cups homemade chicken broth (or canned no salt, no fat)
1 cup very dry sherry
1 cup shredded Monterrey Jack cheese
3 Tablespoons fresh lime juice
Green Tabasco sauce, optional to taste
Homemade Cornbread or Fresh Tortilla Chips
1 cup grated Monterrey Jack cheese
1 bunch chopped scallions, white and green parts
Green Tabasco to pass around so guests can season to taste.
Preheat oven to 400. Lightly oil a baking sheet.
Halve the butternut squash lengthwise and remove the seeds and strings.
Place the squash halves, cut side down, on baking sheet and roast for 30-35 minutes, or until flesh is tender when tested with a fork.
Let cool. Scoop out flesh into bowl and discard skins.
Reserve, covered, until ready to use.
You can roast the green chilies along with the squash but you must watch them carefully. Alternately, you can roast them separately or over a flame on the stove. When they are charred, sweat them, peel and remove the seeds. Then dice them into small pieces and reserve.
While the squash roasts, melt the butter with the oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat until hot. Gently add the onions, carrots and celery. Sauté until softened, about 10 minutes. Sprinkle with the masa harina and stir to combine.
Add the garlic and stir until it releases its aroma. Next, add in the butternut squash pulp and stir, or even better-use a whisk, to combine.
Pour in the chicken stock and sherry and stir again. Keep stirring to combine while watching carefully for lumps from the masa harina. Then bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat immediately to medium so that it maintains a gentle simmer and cook for 30-35 minutes.
Keep in mind that all this stirring is good for your arms!
Remove the soup from the heat and stir in 1 cup of the Jack cheese, sprinkling and stirring, until it melts into the broth.
Allow the broth to cool slightly and then puree the soup until it’s smooth. You can either use a hand blender or transfer the soup in batches to a regular blender.
Be careful that the soup is not still steaming, as it will “explode” if you hold the lid over the top trapping the heat and steam.
When the soup is completely smooth, it should have a sateen finish on the surface. Now is the time to stir in the roasted chilies, lime juice and Tabasco if you are using it.
Serve the soup hot, passing around the shredded cheese, chopped scallions and cornbread or tortilla chips.