This soup is packed with vitamins and scented with garlic, cilantro, and nutmeg. It tastes light and fresh but is also wonderfully warming on a winter night. It can be as spicy or mild as you like; simply omit, reduce, or increase the number of chiles to suit your taste.
If you’re using zucchini or summer squash, trim the blossom ends and cut into 1-inch pieces. If you’re using chayotes, peel, remove pits, and cut into 1-inch pieces. Set aside.
Melt the butter in a 3- to 4-quart pot over medium-high heat. Add the onion, garlic, bay leaves, and salt. Cook, stirring, 1 minute; then add the squash. Cook 5 more minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the broth, increase heat to high, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook until the squash is very soft, 8 to 10 more minutes. Add the spinach, poblano chiles, cilantro, and jalapeño, and cook 8 minutes.
Transfer the mixture to a blender and purée until smooth. Return the soup to the pot and reduce heat to low. Add the milk and nutmeg and check seasonings; add more salt if needed. Cook 10 more minutes, to let the flavors combine. Stir in the sour cream just before serving. Serve hot.
NOTE: Chayotes are pear-shaped fruits, common in the Veracruz region of Mexico where Aracely Rojas grew up; their flavor is much like that of summer squash. Either chayotes, zucchini, or summer squash will work well in this recipe.
On an open flame: Hold the pepper with tongs over the fire; cook, turning, until all sides are charred and blistered.
Under a broiler: Slice peppers in half lengthwise; then arrange, cut side down, on a baking sheet lined with foil. Set an oven rack to the uppermost position and broil the peppers until blackened and blistered.
Remove the peppers from the heat, place in a zip-top bag, and seal. Let sit 5 to 10 minutes, or until the steam loosens the skin. Use a knife and fork to gently remove seeds and skins.