January is apparently National Soup Month in the U.S. I couldn't think of a better month to pay homage to soup, which is one of my favorite things to make. The long, cold, dark days are just perfect for a nice, big bowl of warm soup. Mexican sopas are a particular favorite of mine. Tortilla soup, sopa azteca, posole...I love them all! It must be something about the combination of tomato, chillies, cumin, lime, cilantro, tortilla strips and corn that often feature in these soups that makes them just so darn tasty with the spicy kick that I always crave. Looking for new Mexican-inspired soup ideas on the Internet last night, I fell upon a recipe for a butternut squash soup with chipotle cream by Food Network host and Mexican cuisine guru Marcella Valladolid and knew that this was just the soup to make!
I was certainly on a chipotle kick last night, as the raspberry chipotle dressing that I made to dress a Mexican-inspired salad can attest. Marcella's soup sounded like just the perfect thing to go with it, though I did tweak her recipe a fair bit. I didn't have any fresh butternut squash on hand (the recipe calls for oven roasting and then pureeing the squash), so used a can of pumpkin puree instead. As I wanted a thick soup, I also reduced the vegetable broth from 4 to 2 cups. Though the chipotle cream to top the soup sounded lovely, I didn't add any (other than for the photos here!), though I probably would in the future. Finally, I added crumbled tortilla chips on top of the soup as a garnish. They were lovely mixed in, giving a bit of crunch as well as a nice corn flavor that complemented the warm flavors of the soup perfectly. This was very filling so if you plan to have a big bowl, you should be all set for dinner!
MEXICAN PUMPKIN CHIPOTLE SOUPAdapted from Marcella Valladolid for Food Network
Serves 4 as soup servings, 2 as main dish servings
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
2 tablespoons garlic paste or 3 cloves garlic, minced
1 15-ounce can of pumpkin puree
2 cups vegetable broth (or 2 cups water and a vegetable bouillon cube)
1 whole chipotle pepper from a can of chipotle peppers in adobo sauce
Salt, to taste
Agave syrup or honey, to taste
Chopped coriander, for garnish
Crumbled tortilla chips, for garnish
1. Heat the oil in a large saucepan. Add the onion, celery and carrots and saute until the vegetables are tender, about 10 minutes.
2. Toss in the garlic and saute a couple of minutes more.
3. Add the pumpkin, vegetable broth and chipotle pepper. Bring the mixture to a boil and then simmer on low heat until the vegetables are completely cooked, about 5-10 minutes more.
4. Puree the mixture in a blender until smooth and creamy (be careful doing this...do it in two batches to be on the safe side!).
5. Return the mixture to the saucepan and season with salt and agave syrup/honey, to your liking.
6. Serve garnished with freshly chopped coriander and crumbled tortilla chips. Yum!