By the time the Puritan Pilgrims landed on Plymouth Rock, there were actually many settlements already established by the Spanish in what would eventually be considered the United States, like Santa Fe NM, El Paso TX and St Augustine FL.
So what and where was the first Thanksgiving in the United States? Was it the Puritan Pilgrims with the Indians and the cornucopia of food as we are all taught in school? If you take in account the Spanish colonization of the Southern tier of the United States, the first documented Thanksgiving was in 1598 near what is now El Paso, TX celebrating the expedition of Spanish explorer Juan de Onate. Or was it Francisco Vasquez de Coronado Thanksgiving celebration after crossng into Texas in 1541? Or the documented Thanksgiving service in 1565 at a gathering in St Augustine, FL. Whatever you believe, from whichever direction – the Native American indigionous population was at a loss-but that’s for another post.
First Thanksgiving, source: New Mexican Hispanic Preservation Culture League
But what about today? No matter the historical significance of Thanksgiving, one thing is for certain: The United States is a multicultural melting pot. When one celebration of thanks and food combines with the traditional foods and spices of another culture it is now blended and morphed to make a wonderful Thanksgiving meal representant of the community around the table.
Here I bring to you ancho chili squash and apple soup. A yummy meal or side dish to use with the overabundance of squash this time of year. Also, a fun Thanksgiving starter with a spicy kick.
This is a wonderful addition to your Thanksgiving meal if you are trying for a gluten free, dairy free, or nut free table. And if you are a vegetarian/vegan – what better to go with your Tofurky!
Ancho Chili is a wonderful, versitile spice. The spice started it’s life as a poblano, but dried out becomes known as the ancho. The ancho is the sweetest of the dried chilis with a bit of fruity taste and a medium heat. It is most commonly used in traditional Mexican dishes, but can add fun and flavor to a whole lot of food. Next time you make a batch or brownies – spice it up with some ancho. Make a spice rub with some ancho, cumin, salt and pepper. Put some ancho in your next batch of chili. So many many uses.
For the squash – I am using acorn squash, but any squash will do ya, depending on what flavor you are going for. Try this with butternut or pumpkin for a little sweeter soup, or the many not as popular varieties at the farmer’s market – delicata, banana, ambercup, ect.
RECIPE: ANCHO CHILI SQUASH & APPLE SOUP
- An oven safe pan with sides (to roast squash)
- Medium to large sauce pan or soup pot
- Immersion blender or if you don’t have that – upright blender in batches.
METHODS: How to Roast your Squash
- Preheat oven to 400
- Cut the squash (two acorn squash cooked, or one butternut) in half lengthwise
- Use a spoon to scoop out all of the seeds and strings
- Place in a baking pan flesh side up with a little bit of water on the bottom of the pan (this is so the squash flesh doesn’t burn or get dried out)
- Rub the inside of your squash with butter, or a non dairy butter alternative
- Bake for one hour maybe a little more.
- It’s better to overcook than undercook as you want that mushy consistency. When done your squash will be very soft and a bit brown on the top.
Note: everything you need to chop can be some so corsely as this will all be blended up anyway.
- Two acorn squash cooked, or one butternut, roasted, instructions above
- Olive oil to cover the bottom of the pot (1-2 T)
- 1/2 cup of chopped celery
- 1/2 cup white onion, chopped
- 1 chopped leek
- 1 T ginger, grated or microplaned
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 1 quart of vegetable or chicken stock
- 1 medium to large size sour type apple. I used Ida Red, but Granny Smith or others will work.
- Ancho chili powder to taste (put in one teaspoon at a time and taste. Stop when it’s almost spicy enough as the soup will spice up a little more after the powder settles in)
- Salt and pepper to taste
METHODS: For the Soup
- Heat olive oil in a large sauce pot over medium heat
- Add the chopped celery, leek, onion, garlic, ginger and ancho chili powder.
- Stir a few times until the onion is tender which will be about 5 minutes.
- Add your broth, cooked squash, and chopped apple.
- Bring soup to a simmer over medium low heat and cook for 20 or so minutes
- Remove from heat
- Whip out your immersion blender and puree away! (or if your don’t have an immersion blender, you can blend in an upright blender in batches)
- Stop pureeing until you get the consistency you desire (less puree = more chunkies more puree = more liquid)
- Taste and add extra salt, pepper, or ancho chili powder if needed.
- If you would like to serve the soup in cute pumpkins or other natural squash bowls just carve a round hole out of the top and scoop out the innards.
- Serve as is or choose a fun and yummy garnish.
Ingredients: Optional Garnishes
- Dollop of sour cream
- Pepitas (toasted pumpkin seeds)
- Crumbled goat cheese
- Crumbled bacon
- Handful of sautéed mushrooms
- Fresh rosemary sprigs