Moroccan Butternut Squash Soup

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I have been desperate to use Harissa. I am not sure if that one ingredient made this soup so delicious…. but it was the best butternut squash soup I have ever made or eaten. The recipe calls for an aged goat cheese but the author also suggested using Gouda if the other was unavailable. I used a goat milk Gouda cheese (perfect!); the cheese gave the soup an amazing flavor but was not overpowering. This recipe was adapted from Food and Wine, contributed by Paula Wolfert. We ate it with popovers and green salad. YUM!

For the La Kama Spice Blend: (use extra on roasted vegetables)

  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground white or freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cubeb pepper (optional)
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

For the Soup:

  • 1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • Coarse salt
  • 2 pounds butternut, kabocha or calabaza squash—peeled, seeded and cut into 1 1/2-inch cubes
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 4 cups water
  • 1/2 cup crème fraîche or heavy cream
  • 1/4 pound aged goat cheese, shredded (I used goat milk Gouda)
  • Harissa
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  1. Make the Spice Blend: In a small bowl, combine all of the ingredients. Store in an airtight container.
  2. In a large, heavy pot, toss the onion with the olive oil and 1 teaspoon of salt. Cover and cook over moderately low heat, stirring occasionally, until the onion is very soft, about 10 minutes. Stir in the squash, cover with a round of parchment paper and the lid and cook for 20 minutes.
  3. Add the tomato paste, 1 teaspoon of the spice blend and the water to the pot and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer until the squash is tender, 20 minutes. Let cool.
  4. Working in batches, puree the soup in a blender (I use an immersion blender in the pot.); add the crème fraîche, three-fourths of the cheese and 1 teaspoon of harissa to the last batch. Return all of the soup to the pot and season with salt and black pepper. Serve the soup, passing the remaining cheese and more harissa at the table.

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