Active Time: 40 Minutes
Total Time: 1 Hour 10 Minutes
Yield: 8 servings, 1 1/2 cups each

Shaped like a flattened drum, buttercup squash most closely resembles the local squash used in this comforting hearty soup from northern Brazil. It has a dark green peel, a grayish turban-shaped top and dense orange flesh. Hubbard, butternut or delicata squashes could also be used. Instead of the lip-numbing Brazilian green jambu, we have used spinach. For a more festive look, serve in a roasted squash half (see Tip).

1 tablespoon   butter

4 cloves garlic, minced
2   carrots, chopped
1   medium onion, chopped
6 cups  reduced-sodium chicken broth
3 pounds  buttercup squash, peeled and diced (about 6 cups)

1   plum tomato, chopped
1/4 teaspoon  crushed red pepper

1/4 teaspoon  salt
1/8 teaspoon  freshly ground pepper
2 15-ounce cans  pinto or other brown beans, rinsed
10 ounces  spinach, stemmed and coarsely chopped

1   lime, cut into wedges

Tip: To make squash bowls:

Preheat oven to 425°F. Slice about an inch off the top of each buttercup squash. Scoop out seeds and loose flesh. Pour 1/2 inch water into a glass baking dish (or two) large enough to hold the squash. Place squash cut-side down in the water. Bake until the flesh is tender when gently poked with a knife and the squash still holds its shape, about 30 minutes.

Melt butter in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add garlic, carrots and onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are tender and lightly browned, 5 to 7 minutes. Add broth and scrape up any browned bits with a wooden spoon. Add squash, tomato, crushed red pepper, salt and pepper and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook until the squash is very soft and almost breaking apart, about 20 minutes

Transfer 3 cups of the soup to a blender and puree until smooth. (Use caution when pureeing hot liquids). Return the pureed soup to the pot. Stir in beans and spinach and cook over medium heat until the beans are heated through and the spinach is wilted, about 5 minutes. Serve with lime wedges.