Cream of Caribbean Pumpkin Soup with Cacao Nibs: Crema de Calabaza y Cacao

2019-03-10
  • Yield : Yield: 6 to 8 servings
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Ingredients

  • 1 ounce cacao nibs
  • 1 chile guajillo
  • 4 plum tomatoes (about 10 ounces), stemmed
  • 1/2 white onion (about 3 1/2 ounces)
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 1/8 teaspoon allspice
  • 1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon aniseed
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon brown loaf sugar (preferably Colombian panela or Mexican piloncillo), grated or demerara natural brown cane sugar
  • 2 pounds calabaza, (or Caribbean pumpkin, acorn, or hubbard squash) peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 8 cups well-flavored chicken stock
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 ounce dark chocolate (preferably 58.5 percent or 60 percent cacao content)
  • 1 cup Mexican cream or creme fraiche
  • 1 cup cubed Manchego cheese
  • Kekchi Cacao-Chile Balls, recipe follows
  • 3 ounces (about 2/3 cup) cacao nibs
  • 3 ounces (about 1 cup) piquin chiles
  • 1 (1-inch) stick true canela (soft Ceylon cinnamon), coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon allspice berries
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon Spanish smoked paprika

Method

Step 1

Heat a griddle, medium-sized cast-iron skillet, or Mexican comal over medium heat. Add the cacao nibs and dry-roast for 2 minutes, until fragrant, turning constantly with a wooden spoon or spatula. Turn out into another container and set aside.

Step 2

Stem and seed the chile. Place on a hot comal, griddle or iron skillet and roast briefly turning with tongs. Place in a bowl with warm water to soften. Roast the tomatoes, onion, and garlic until blistered on all sides. Peel the onion and garlic. Place in a food processor or blender together with the roasted cacao nibs and the spices and puree.

Step 3

Heat the oil in medium, heavy-bottomed pot. Add the puree and the brown sugar and saute for 5 minutes. Add the pumpkin and the stock. Correct seasoning. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Lower the heat and cover until the pumpkin is soft, about 15 minutes. Puree in a food processor or blender, in batches. Strain the soup pushing the solids against the strainer with the back of a spoon. Put back in the pot and heat over medium heat. Add the chocolate and stir until dissolved, about 3 minutes.

Step 4

Serve the soup hot garnished with a dollop of Mexican cream or creme fraiche and a tablespoon or so of the cubed cheese. Pass the Kekchi Cacao-Chile balls around the table with a small cheese grater and invite your guests to grate a pinch of this super-hot condiment on the soup for extra heat and cacao flavor.

Step 5

Heat a griddle, medium-sized cast-iron skillet, or Mexican comal over medium heat. Add the cacao nibs and dry-roast for 2 minutes, until fragrant, turning constantly with a wooden spoon or spatula. Turn out into another container and set aside.

Step 6

Add the chiles, cinnamon stick, and allspice berries to the griddle and roast the same way, stirring for 2 minutes. Scrape into an electric spice mill or coffee grinder with the salt and paprika; grind to a fine powder.

Step 7

Combine the spice mixture and roasted cacao in a mini-food processor and process into a warm, sticky paste, 3 to 4 minutes, stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl. Scrape out onto a work surface and shape into 12 small balls. Let sit until thoroughly dried. Store in a tightly sealed jar. When ready to use, grate over any dish of your choice.

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