1. Noun. Any of various plants of the species Cucurbita maxima and Cucurbita moschata producing squashes that have hard rinds and mature in the fall.
I welcome the arrival of winter squash season – no more pesky zucchinis and eggplants. No matter the weather those things produce like crazy and fill the markets, friends and family try to off-load their bounty, magazines are full of recipes but really they are truly vegetables that take a lot of creative seasoning to make them palatable.
It’s been a rough season at Cedar Run Farm in Southern Ohio. A long wet spring made planting a challenge. Summer was hot and dry. But my brother, Jerry, still managed a sizeable crop of pumpkins and squash and I brought a boatload of them home with me a couple of weeks ago. Those pretty yellow ones are Sweet Dumplings and the green ones Buttercups. Both have a flavor similar to butternut squash. They are great for stuffing and roasting. I, however, came home to piles of leaves and wanted to find a way to use them fast before they had a chance to spoil. I decided to roast them all in one batch and make soup.
They are even pretty on the inside! You know the usual routine, cut them open and scrape out the seeds and “guts.” Here’s a tip I found on the internet that made cutting them open a whole lot easier – cooking them in the microwave for about a minute softens the rind making them easier to cut open. Or, you can use a big knife and a rubber hammer! Either way, get them opened, cleaned out and lay them face up on a baking sheet. I sprayed my with Pam to keep them from drying out and you can also brush them with olive oil. Set the oven to 400 degrees and roast for about 45 minutes, or until soft. Mine took 1 hour and I covered them lightly with foil after the first 1/2 hour because I thought they were getting brown too fast.
When they are done, your kitchen will smell wonderful, like a pumpkin pie shop! Let them cool to the point where you can handle them then scoop out the flesh with a spoon. Those pesky leaves got in the way again the day I cooked mine so I put them in large storage bags and stored them in the refrigerator for 2 days until I had time to make the soup. Truthfully, even 2 days later I did not have time because I had to take Andy to an art class so I scooped out the flesh and left Dana to finish the soup.
(By the way, Andy made a collage of a tree using leaves, sticks and acorns and a sunflower with seeds glued to it – very nice and lots of fun!)
Dana and I are both big fans of Alton Brown so we started (and here, by WE I mean DANA) with his recipe for Butternut Squash Soup. Dana liked this recipe because it seemed more savory than sweet. We had butternut squash soup last week at Bakers Square – I loved it, he hated it because he said it was too sweet. Doesn’t like sweet potatos unless they are plain but he will eat pumpkin pie, hmmmm… don’t know what his problem is. Anyway, by the time I got home he had the soup going pretty good. I tasted it and HOLY COW was it hot! If you use this recipe don’t underestimate the heat of white pepper. Start with 1/2 the amount called for and add more later to taste. It was also very thick so we added more cream and more chicken stock and a little more honey. By the time we were done tinkering it suited us both and looked like this:
We added just a sprinkling of cheese – day one I used a mixed shredded Italian mix, the next day a mixed shredded Mexican mix. Both were good but I slightly preferred the Italian cheese. Add some croutons – we used garlic and cheese – some good crusty bread and dinner is served!
Our recipe made a larger quantity than Alton’s – think our squash was more fibrous than butternut and that’s also why we had to thin it more. I used a handblender to make it creamy but you could also use a blender. We had enough for 2 good meals and froze about the same amount. Of course only two of us would eat it, (Andy politely declined) so in your house it may disappear the first meal. Oh, and you WILL want to lick the bowl!