Butternut Squash and Carrot Soup


1 butternut squash (1 1/2 to 2 pounds)
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 large yellow onion, chopped
1 1/2 teaspoons sweet paprika
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 1/2 teaspoons ground coriander
4 large carrots, coarsely chopped
1 teaspoon sugar
3 cups chicken stock
3 cups water
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1/2 cup plain yogurt
3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro

Preheat an oven to 375°F.

Cut the squash in half from top to bottom and place it, cut side down, on a lightly oiled baking sheet.  Bake until the squash can be easily be pierced with a knife, 50 to 60 minutes.  Allow it to cool slightly.  With a spoon, remove and discard the seeds.  Scrape the pulp from the skin.  Discard the skin.

Warm the olive oil in a soup pot over medium heat.  Add the onions and cook until soft, 7 minutes.  Add the paprika, cumin, turmeric, and coriander and continue to cook, stirring for 2 minutes. Add the squash, carrots, sugar, chicken stock, water, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to low, and simmer, uncovered, until the carrots are soft, 20-25 minutes.  Let cool for 15 minutes.  Puree the soup, in several batches, in a blender until it is very smooth, 3 minutes per batch. Strain it through a fine-mesh strainer back into the pot, and gently reheat. If the soup is too thick, add some water. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Place the yogurt in a small bowl. Season it with salt and pepper, and stir well.
Ladle the hot soup into soup bowls, garnish with the cilantro and a drizzle of yogurt, and serve.

Serves 6

TO DRINK: Sauvignon Blanc