Yuno’s Farm is one of my favorite Union Square Greenmarket stalls. She always has beautiful vegetables, and many that are Japanese or Korean and impossible to find anywhere else. Recently, she had several kinds of radish, and this summer, purple long beans. Last week, I picked up some Japanese sweet potato from her, along with two butternut squashes.
I took them to DTK (DiGregorio Test Kitchen) and played around with them. Turns out, Japanese sweet potatoes have a white, dense, starchy flesh, and a more mild sweetness than other sweet potatoes.
Above: Roast your root vegetables until nicely caramelized, like this
I decided to roast the squash and sweet potatoes before making them into a pureed soup. Roasting the veggies until they’re lightly caramelized before putting them in a soup brings out their sweet depth of flavor. I also roasted two heads of garlic, and reached for ancho, pasilla and guajillo dried chiles (sometimes called the holy trinity of chiles used in making mole sauces). You can find these at any Mexican bodega or grocery store. They’re also sold at Fairway.
This soup would be a great vegetarian option for Thanksgiving.
Greenmarket Squash Soup with Holy Trinity Chiles
Yield: About 10 servings
You can use American sweet potatoes if you prefer. This dish turned out to be vegetarian (accidentally), but you can substitute chicken stock for the water if you prefer.
2 small butternut squash, peeled and chopped
4 medium Japanese sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped
salt and pepper
5 tablespoons olive oil, divided
2 heads garlic
1 large yellow onion, chopped
2 teaspoons cayenne
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground cloves
3 ancho chiles, stemmed
2 guajillo chiles, stemmed
2 pasilla chiles, stemmed
juice of 1 lime
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. On two sheet pans, toss the butternut squash and sweet potatoes with generous pinches of salt and pepper. Pour one tablespoon olive oil over the contents of each sheet pan, and toss to coat. Cut the root end off each head of garlic. Take two pieces of tin foil, and place one head of garlic on each one. Pour one tablespoon olive oil over the exposed cloves on the end of each head. Twist up the foil to make a neat package with the garlic inside. Place sheet pans and garlic in the hot oven to roast until tender and lightly caramelized, about 30 to 40 minutes. (The garlic may be done earlier.)
When the squash, sweet potatoes and garlic are done, remove them from the oven. Open the foil packets so that the garlic can cool for ease of handling. Set aside.
In a large pot over medium heat, warm the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil. Saute the onion in the oil until softened and translucent. Add a pinch of salt, along with the cayenne, cinnamon and cloves, and stir to combine. Add the roasted vegetables. Squeeze each clove of garlic so that the roasted flesh goes into the pot. Discard the papery skins of the garlic. Stir to combine.
Pour in enough water to just cover the vegetables, and add in the dried chiles, pushing them under the water. Season again with salt, and bring pot to a simmer. Simmer for about 20 minutes, or until the dried chiles are very soft. Transfer soup to a blender, and puree until smooth. (Alternatively, if you have an immersion blender you can puree the soup without removing it from the pot.)
Stir the juice of one lime into the soup, and taste for salt and pepper, adding more if necessary. Serve.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on November 24, 2008