Being the food obsessed person I am, I constantly peruse cookbooks, magazines and newspapers for new and interesting recipes. On occasion one jumps out at me that I can hardly wait to try. This soup solidly falls into that category and I am happy to report, I was not disappointed.
Let’s start by talking about Kabocha (kah-BOH- chah). Relatively new to the United States market, this winter squash has a beautiful jade green rind with celadon green streaks. When cooked, its vibrant orange flesh is tender, creamy and sweet. Kabochas can be cooked many ways; steamed, roasted, baked or any preparation that would be suitable for an acorn squash. Keep that in mind as a good substitute if Kabocha has not yet landed in your market. Also called Japanese pumpkin, they started to gain popularity in my area of the world a couple of years ago. The average size is 2-3 lbs. They are worth seeking out so I urge you to look for them. It has also been said they are an aphrodisiac, but I can’t really speak to that.
Ok, that said, I want to also address the use of virgin coconut oil. I am often asked about this as there have been conflicting theories about its use but recently it is hailed by many as a heart healthy food with many health benefits. Do your research and come to your own conclusions. Extra-virgin olive oil would be a suitable substitute if you decide it is not for you.
Let’s get back to this amazing recipe. Who ever thought the combination of squash, chipotle and dark chocolate? I first saw a version of this in a local publication called, Nature’s Pathways. It was submitted courtesy of Dr. Ingrid Recnik, of Wussow Chiropractic. Thanks, doc. Of course, I had to tweak it to suit my style and preferences making it my own. I kept the general structure but changed it up switching out a couple of ingredients and quantities. I believe the result was a perfectly balanced bowl of yumminess. My diners agreed.
KABOCHA SQUASH SOUP w/ CHIPOTLE and DARK CHOCOLATE Serves 6-8
Recipe by Jeanne Raffetto Tentis, adapted from a recipe by Dr. Ingrid Recnik
2.5 pounds kabocha squash, aka Japanese pumpkin
2T virgin coconut oil, divided
3 small heads of garlic
2 medium yellow onions, cut into ¼-inch slices
3c organic chicken or vegetable stock
1t sea salt
1 t ground cinnamon
1 chipotle pepper in adobo, chopped, more if you desire more heat
4-6 oz. quality dark bittersweet chocolate, shaved (with a vegetable peeler or micro-plane grater)
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
- Cut squash in half, scoop out the seeds and place cut side down in a baking dish. Add one cup of water to the dish and bake for 45 minutes or until tender when pierced with a fork.
- Meanwhile, place the garlic head on a piece of foil and top with 1T of the coconut oil. Wrap it in a bundle and place it in an oven proof dish or small pan. Place in oven with the squash and bake until soft, about 45 minutes.
- While the squash and garlic are roasting, add remaining 1T of the coconut oil to a skillet. When melted, add the sliced onions and sauté over medium heat until soft and lightly caramelized, about 15- 20 minutes.
- Allow squash, garlic and onions to cool. When cool enough to handle, squish the garlic out of their skins into a blender. Scoop flesh from the shell of the squash into the blender as well. Add the onions, stock, salt, cinnamon and chipotle pepper. Blend until smooth. If you do not have a large enough blender, do this in batches or in a larger food processor.
- Transfer mixture to a soup pot and heat on medium-low heat to a simmer. Cook, uncovered, for 5-10 minutes, stirring often and being careful not to scorch the bottom.
- Serve hot, garnished with a generous amount of the shaved chocolate.
Being close to Thanksgiving, periodicals are filled with seasonal recipes for squash soup but what takes this squash soup to a new level is the addition of the smoky heat of the chipotle, paired with the brightness of the cinnamon, savory caramelized onion and roasted garlic. The crowning jewel, however, is that rich dark chocolate over the top. Wow! Who knew? By the way, I do think the coconut oil adds a pleasant full-bodied taste, a bit of nutty flavor, that enhances the overall dish.
If you want to impress your friends and family, try adding this to your holiday menu. Serve this party in a bowl and I promise, you will be a star!
As always, I look forward to your comments and thank you for “spreading the love, one dish a t a time.” Until next time, love from my table to yours.