“How do you cook it?” I asked the grower, expecting a healthy, yet exotic, recipe.
“Oh, I just microwave it with some butter,” she replied.
The food snob inside me winced, but all I said was, “Is a small one any better than a large one?”
Since she found them equally tasty, I picked a large one, as I was paying by the squash rather than by the pound.
The squash sat in my refrigerator for a few weeks till I had the nerve to try cutting it. I was afraid it would be as tough as a spaghetti squash, which is really tough; I knew that because I had tried cooking one once. Still, I had no idea what I was doing with my butternut squash and had to research whether I was to peel this veggie or not.
This truly orange pureed soup boasts an astounding mix of flavors, blending tart and sweet. It is worth the time required to peel and dice a number of vegetables.
Just a note before you begin. To prepare the butternut squash: First, cut off the bottom and top. Then, using a potato peeler, remove all of the outer skin. Slice in half, removing seeds and the matting around the seeds. When dicing, place flat area on cutting board to prevent slipping.
Butternut Squash Soup
2 tablespoons butter
2 leeks, chopped (use the white and light green areas; the rest can be sautéed for another recipe)
1 large onion, diced
2 generous cups peeled, diced butternut squash
1 cup diced carrots
1 cup diced parsnips
1 Granny Smith apple, peeled, cored, and sliced very thinly
1 quart gluten-free chicken stock
1/2 cup heavy cream (do not substitute milk in this recipe; almond milk can be used to be dairy-free)
1/4 cup dry white wine (I used Chardonnay)
Salt and pepper to taste
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
Green onion, sliced (garnish at table)
Melt butter over low heat; sauté chopped leeks and onion for about 10 minutes, until soft but not browned. Add squash, carrots, parsnips, apple, and chicken stock. Bring to a simmer and cook 30 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly before pureeing in a blender, in batches. Do not skip this step; soup must be pureed. Return to pot, adding cream, wine, nutmeg, salt and pepper. Simmer 5 minutes before serving. Garnish with sliced green onion after serving. Yield: 8 servings. Freezes well.
Once the soup was boiling, I returned to the remaining half of the squash. I wasn’t about to waste it, so I diced it and put it in a 9” square baking dish, dotted it with 2 tablespoons of butter, 1/4 cup brown sugar, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, 3/4 cup raisins, and 1/2 cup water. I baked it in a 350 degree oven covered with aluminum foil for 20 minutes and then uncovered for about 35 more minutes.
I now have two great butternut squash recipes.
So, when you’re at the farmers’ market or the grocery store, take a healthy risk, and pick up a butternut squash. Maybe you’ll devise a recipe of your own.
Note: To bake a butternut squash whole, just scrub and place in a baking dish at 350 degrees for about one hour, depending upon the size of the squash. Check for doneness by piercing with a knife. When cooked, cut in half, remove seeds and matting around seeds, and mash the remaining pulp with butter.