Preheat the oven to 375°F.
Cut the pumpkin or squash in half lengthwise. Remove the seeds and reserve them for the Spiced Pumpkin Seeds (p. 51 in Mod Mex).
Put the pumpkin on a baking sheet, cut side up. To each half, add 2 tablespoons of the butter and 2 tablespoons of the piloncillo. Sprinkle each half with a pinch of the spices and some salt, cover with aluminum foil, and bake for 30 to 40 minutes until the flesh is soft and slightly brown. (Bake the pumpkin seeds at the same time as the pumpkin.) Remove and let cool. With a large spoon, scoop out the flesh and discard the outer skin. Set aside.
Heat a large, heavy-bottomed pot over medium-high heat. Add the olive oil and onion, and saute until translucent, about 3 minutes. Add the chiles and garlic and cook 2 minutes more. Add the remaining 4 tablespoons piloncillo and the pumpkin, stir in the chicken stock, orange juice, the remaining spices, and the bay leaves. Bring the soup to a slow boil, and then reduce the heat to a gentle simmer and cook for 20 minutes. Remove the bay leaves and working in batches, puree the soup in the jar of an electric blender until smooth. Pour the soup through a fine strainer, stir in the heavy cream, and season to taste with salt. If necessary, return the soup to the pan and gently reheat.
In a small bowl, stir together all of the ingredients for the spiced crema with 1/2 teaspoon salt and refrigerate until needed.
Ladle the hot soup into bowls. Add a dollop of crema and some pumpkin seeds and serve.
Reprinted with permission from ©Scott Linquist and Joanna Pruess, Mod Mex: Cooking Vibrant Fiesta Flavors at Home, published by Andrews McMeel click for book review and more recipes
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