Butternut Squash Soup

This beautiful butternut squash soup is perfect for the fall and winter. It gets a slight southwestern-style smokiness from adding a paste made from dried ancho chilies (poblano peppers), which are only slightly spicy, and even a little sweet. If you have little children, you can simply leave out the peppers. Make the soup into a creamy bisque by substituting 2-3 cups of heavy cream for the sour cream.

    1 butternut squash, peeled and cut into 1" cubes
    2 yellow potatoes, cut into 1" cubes
    4 carrots, cut into 1/4" cubes
    1/3 of a sweet yellow onion, roughly chopped
    4 cloves garlic, diced
    1 head fennel or anise, sliced thinly
    2 tablespoons olive oil
    3 large tomatoes, diced
    4 vegetable bullion cubes
    1 can vegetable broth
    4 dried ancho chilies, stems pulled off
    1 1/2 cup water
    2 cups sour cream
  1. Heat the oil in a large stock pot. When it starts to glisten, add fennel, onion, and garlic. Cook until onions start to turn translucent. Be careful not to let garlic burn or brown. About five minutes.
  2. Add 1/3 of the can of vegetable broth to deglaze the bottom of the pot and stir to incorporate any caramelized bits.
  3. Stir in tomatoes and let them cook down. About eight minutes.
  4. Add squash, carrots, potatoes, broth, and bullion. Pour in water until it comes to an inch from the top of the vegetables. The amount of water will depend on how much juicy the tomatoes are.
  5. Bring to a boil, stirring lower vegetables to the top of the pot occasionally. Let cook for 30-40 minutes, or until carrots and squash are very soft.
  6. While vegetables are boiling, microwave the 1 1/2 cups water in a wide bowl for two minutes. Set the chili pods in the bowl for about 10 minutes, until reconstituted.
  7. Buzz chili pods and water in a blender or food processor until they become a paste.
  8. When vegetables are soft, transfer contents of the pot into a blender or food processor, and buzz down to a smooth conistency. Add a little of the sour cream to each batch so it doesn't cool down the soup too much.
  9. Serve immediately with garlic bread or crumbled Gorgonzola as a garnish.

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