I served this decadent and rich soup as a prelude to Thanksgiving dinner this year and boy-oh-boy did the house go wild. The shrimp and butternut squash get along gorgeously, while the peppers add just the right amount of spice.
It begins with a rich broth consisting of dried ancho chiles, aromatic veggies and shrimp shells to create a one-of-a-kind indulgence of flavors. Roasted butternut squash soon becomes the star of this dish as it is emulsified with the broth, then complemented by perfectly poached wild-caught shrimp.
A tip for picking butternut squash: Butternut squash can be fairly intimidating because of its size and tough exterior, but what lies inside is worth overcoming any hesitations you may have. When choosing your squash, look for one that is blemish free and also feels heavy for its size.
1 Butternut Squash
2 tablespoon Canola Oil
1 pound (10/15) Wild-Caught Shrimp, peeled, deveined and chopped into bite-sized pieces, shells reserved
3 Carrots, stems removed and chopped into 1” pieces
2 Stalks of Celery, chopped into 1” pieces
1 White Onion, roughly chopped
6 Dried Ancho Chiles
6 Cilantro Stems
2 Cloves of Garlic, skins removed
1 Bay Leaf
2 teaspoons Whole Black Peppercorns
2 teaspoons Kosher Salt
6 cups Filtered Water
3/4 cups Heavy Cream
1 tablespoon of Adobo Sauce
1/2 teaspoon of Kosher Salt
1/4 teaspoon of Black Pepper
Pinch of Cayenne
Preheat the oven to 425° and have ready a rimmed baking sheet lined with nonstick aluminum foil.
To prepare the butternut squash, cut off the ends and stand up on it’s bottom side. Carefully, cut down the center of the squash using a large chefs knife. If you are struggling to cut into the squash, using a wooden spoon and holding the knife firmly atop where the cut is to take place, begin tapping the spoon along the knife until the cut has been made. Continue to do so until you are able to cut through the squash without the assistance of the spoon. For an example, see TAK’s How to Roast a Pumpkin blog post. Once the squash is split, scrape out the seeds and coat both the inside and outside of the squash with the oil. Place squash flesh-side down on the baking sheet and roast for 50 minutes or until tender when poked with a paring knife. Set aside until cool enough to handle.
Add the shrimp shells to a Dutch oven or large pot and refrigerate the shrimp until ready to use. Also to the pot add carrots, celery, onion, chiles, cilantro, garlic, bay leaf, peppercorns, salt and water. Place over medium-high heat and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and allow to simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Have ready a fine mesh sieve or a strainer firmly situated over a large, heatproof bowl. Pour the stock over the strainer and discard of its contents, saving the only the strained liquid in the bowl.
Scoop out the flesh of the squash and place directly into the Dutch oven, a spoonful at a time. Pour the strained broth over the squash and return to the stovetop over medium-high heat. Allow to come to a simmer and reduce heat to medium-low. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove the lid and using an immersion blender, puree the soup until velvety smooth. Alternatively, ladle the soup into a food processor or blender, a couple cupsat a time, and pulse. Take care not to let steam build up in either machine. This can be accomplished by removing the tube feed from either device and covering instead with a dish towel while pulsing. Place the puree into a large mixing bowl until all of the soup has been processed.
Return soup to the Dutch oven and add the reserved shrimp, heavy cream, adobo sauce, salt, pepper and cayenne. Allow to simmer another 10 minutes or so, or just until the shrimp are cooked through. Serve and enjoy.
*Do not reheat this soup in the microwave, as it will overcook the shrimp. If you would like to reheat it, simply add the desired amount to a saucepan and heat over medium-low heat until warmed through to your liking.
Would pair well with:
Dry White Wine, such Sauvignon Blanc or Pinot Grigio
Homemade Garlic Bread (recipe to come)