The Costa Rica climate is not suitable for the traditional pumpkin, but we do have many other type of squash. One of them is called Ayote, or Calabaza. This squash is round like a pumpkin, but it has a dark green skin, or rind, with tinges of yellow when it is ripe, or as the Ticos say, “Sazon.”
Yesterday, for lunch, I oven roasted Ayote that I had tossed with olive oil salt, black pepper, and some red pepper flakes. Since John has never been a vegetable kind of guy, we had a lot left over. Today, I decided to make Caribbean Calabaza Soup with the leftovers.
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 small onion, minced
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 cups cubed ayote, calabaza, pumpkin, or butternut squash
4 cups chicken or vegetable stock
¼ teaspoon of thyme
1 teaspoon fresh oregano
2 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro
1 teaspoon coarse salt
2 tablespoons of tapa de dulce shavings (unrefined sugar cake), or dark brown sugar
1 cup coconut milk
1 minced chili pepper (to taste)
Natilla, or sour cream (optional)
Chopped chives (optional)
- Remove the rind, or skin from the squash and remove all the seeds. Cut the squash into about 1-2 inch cubes.
- Heat the oil in a 4-quart saucepan and add the squash, tossing to coat. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes, and then add the onion and garlic. Cover and sweat the vegetables for about 3 minutes. (Note: If you have left over roasted squash like I did, you just need to sauté the onions and garlic, then add the squash. No need to sweat the squash again)
- Add the stock, thyme, oregano, cilantro, hot chili pepper and salt. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes, then remove the lid and simmer over low heat for 10 minutes more, or until the squash is tender.
- Remove the pan from the stove and use a hand blender to puree all the ingredients. If you don’t have a hand blender, remove the vegetables and herbs from the soup with a slotted spoon and place in a blender or food processor and puree until smooth. Be careful to not fill the blender or food processor too full or the hot ingredients will expand and make a mess. Return everything to the soup pot, add the sugar and coconut milk, and mix well.
- Simmer the soup for 5 minutes, or until reduced to a nice thick consistency. Serve hot, garnished with a dollop of sour cream and some chives.