Here in Colorado, Fall is in full swing!  The aspen trees are the most vibrant yellow, the mountain air is barely crisp, and the markets are abundant with local squash of seemingly endless varieties!  Admittedly, this is my favorite time of year for food.  As a full-fledged food lover I try not to play favorites, but there's something about the flavors of Fall that I can't help but favor. 

If you've never tried Kabocha squash, you are really in for a treat.  Also known as the Japanese Pumpkin, the Kabocha is more intense, sweet, and vibrant-colored than the American varieties.  The skin of this squash is edible when cooked, but since this soup is pureed it is best to remove it and use for making pumpkin stock. 

What you'll love about this soup is the wonderful flavor contrasts of spicy and sweet.  If you remove the seeds from the chipotles before adding to the soup, you will get a milder, smoky heat.  If you want some sinus-clearing spice (that's Obe's favorite heat level!), leave the seeds in.  It might just be the tastiest cold medicine you've ever sipped!

Spicy Chipotle-Kabocha Soup
serves 8

1 Kabocha Squash (any color)
1 large yellow onion, halved and sliced
3 T butter or olive oil
1/4 cup brandy
4 cloves garlic, minced
3 oz (1/4 of a can) Chipotles in adobo sauce
2 cups Yukon Gold potatoes, diced
1 cup water
about 6 cups of vegetable stock (or homemade Kabocha stock)

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Prep the squash:  Halve the squash and scrape out the pulp and seeds (set aside for stock).  Fill a large, shallow pan with about 2 inches of water.  Place squash halves cut-side down in the pan and place in the oven.  Roast until squash is very soft, about 30 minutes.

In a large pot over medium-high heat, melt butter.  Add onions and cook until golden-brown and caramelized, about 10 minutes.  Add garlic and saute for 1 minute.  Deglaze pan with brandy and add chipotles, potatoes and water.  Bring liquid to a boil, then add stock.  Bring to a boil again, then lower the heat to allow the soup to simmer.

Once squash is cool enough to handle, peel away the skin, scraping any stubborn bits off with a spoon.  Set the skin aside for stock.  Stir the kabocha flesh into the soup and continue to simmer until potatoes are completely soft and the liquid thickens, about 30 minutes.  Using an immersian blender, puree soup until smooth.  Remove from heat and serve immediately.