Squash, one of the oldest crops in Costa Rica, grows everywhere in the country. The pre-Columbian people used it as an essential ingredient but also as a way to thicken their soups (along with grains, corn, and potatoes). The soups were mostly meatless until the Spaniards arrived in the 16th century.
This creamy but creamless soup, crema de ayote, is a versatile dish with just a few ingredients, perfect for making as a hearty meal to enjoy all week. It brings out the core Costa Rican flavors of cilantro and sweet pepper for a zesty variation on our more mild and creamy vegetable soups in the United States.
1 pound butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and coarsely chopped
4 sweet red peppers, seeded and coarsely chopped
1 teaspoon chopped cilantro 1 teaspoon chopped culantro coyote*
1⁄2 onion, minced
1 cup vegetable broth
Salt and pepper (optional)
In a soup pot, combine all ingredients through the broth and bring to a boil; then reduce heat immediately to a low simmer. Cook until the squash can be easily mashed with a spoon or fork, about 30 minutes.
Use a wooden spoon or potato masher to mash squash until soup is creamy and smooth. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Serve with a dollop of cashew cream, if desired.
*If you do not have culantro coyote, add 2 teaspoons chopped fresh cilantro and 2 more tablespoons minced onion.
The Blue Zones Kitchen fuses scientific reporting, National Geographic photography and 100 recipes that may help you live to 100. The Blue Zones’ food tradition is going the way of the dodo bird, thanks to the encroachment of the American Food Culture.Learn More