The fall season brings with it an abundance of winter or hard squash. The markets and the stores are loaded with this tasty and enduring vegetable. Acorn, Butternut, Buttercup, Delicata, Hubbard, Turban – all keep well on the kitchen counter for weeks. Did you know that the common pumpkin is also a winter squash and can be used interchangeably with any of the others? Most are enjoyed simply split and roasted with a little butter and brown sugar. Or try using maple syrup or maple sugar. The yellow to orange flesh can be scooped out and used in many recipes. It can also be sliced and slowly sautéed in butter or oil, and seasoned in any number of ways.
Lots of folks like the flesh of the spaghetti squash. Once cooked, it turns to ribbons that can be scooped out and served with pasta sauce. No matter how it is prepared, squash is one of my favorite vegetables, and it always takes me back to my childhood as the grandson of a truck farmer.
Hard shelled squash is native to America and were prized by native people. Along with beans and corn, they provided much of the sustenance for an entire culture. Squash are an important food source of carotenoids, and loaded with great flavor. The seeds can even be roasted and are enjoyed extensively in Central America, variously seasoned.
Here is a recipe that I put together recently using some “Heart of Gold” squash, grown locally and purchased at the Downtown Des Moines Farmers Market.
Roasted Winter Squash Soup
1¼ lb cleaned winter squash (seeds removed)
½ cup sliced onion
1½ Tablespoons butter
1½ Tablespoons flour
1½ cups chicken stock
¾ cup cream
1 teaspoon maple sugar or 1 Tablespoon maple syrup
Salt and pepper
Cut squash into 2” chunks or wedges, leaving the skin on. Rub olive oil on squash pieces and place on a baking sheet. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and roast in a 350 degree oven for one hour or until tender.
Allow to cool and remove pulp from the skin.
Sauté the onion in the butter until tender.
Add the flour and cook for two minutes, stirring.
Add the squash pulp and chicken stock and cook and whisk until smooth and thickened, about 5 minutes.
Add the cream and maple sugar and heat through.
Place mixture into a blender and puree.
Place mixture back into the pan and heat.
Taste and add salt and pepper as needed.
Makes about 4 cups.
This is a perfect soup for a nice, cool, fall evening. Let us know if you try this recipe!