Sometime late last May, nearly a year ago now, I started a handful of pumpkin and winter squash seeds. We got a bit busy and behind on the transplanting, so it was well into June before they went into the ground. Fast forward through the summer and into the fall, and I was out in the back yard looking for the Great Pumpkin around about the end of October. Not finding him this year, I decided instead to harvest all the squash for market and for storage. The Honey Bear acorn squash were exceptionally cute, individual sized really. Pie pumpkins produced pitifully, but made at least one tasty batch of pumpkin pudding. Mother Hubbard would have been proud of the Blue Hubbards that came from the patch, though they were also few. The butternut squash (my personal favorite) were the most prolific of all and snaked their way out of their patch and into the adjacent rows of garlic and melons.
Squash lessons learned: Don’t pick them too early, before they are fully ripe. I did bake one butternut far too early, when there was still a slight green hue left near the stem end. It looked great, smelled great, and tasted like absolutely nothing. Plant them in early June, not late or they don’t have enough time to grow up big and tasty. And thirdly, keep them on the sunny side! My least productive plants were the ones closest to the tree line, where even the weeds look pathetic.
In any event, I overestimated how much squash we could reasonably eat in a winter. In the garage, I still have a box abundantly full of squash hanging out by my fig trees. I am embarrassed to admit that I sometimes forget that they are there, and look in the fridge and pantry shelves instead for dinner ideas. This week, I remembered my neglected squash and instead of cooking just one, I cooked three! I still have a full quart of baked squash just begging for a recipe, but here’s what we started with. This is my best estimate for an unmeasured recipe of butternut squash soup. It is a standby for me, is extremely forgiving, and freezes well in pint sized jars. That way when we are lazy or busy, I can throw together a meal with all the convenience of a Stouffer’s t.v. dinner and all the tastiness of the garden.
- 3-4 cups baked squash (1 butternut or 2 if they are small)
- 3 cups vegetable stock
- 1 can coconut milk.
- 1 T apple cider vinegar
- 2T coconut oil or other oil
- 1 small onion, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, chopped
- 1 tsp thyme
- 1/2 tsp ginger
- 1/4 tsp nutmeg
- 1/2 tsp tumeric
- 1 tsp +/- salt to taste (truffle salt if you have it)
- fresh ground pepper to taste
If you haven’t already, wash the squash, cautiously chop them in half (symmetrically!) and place them cut side down in a baking dish with 1/2-3/4″ of water. Bake for 45-1 hr at 375, or until tender when poked with a fork. Drain the remaining water then flip the squash cut side up. Allow to cool just enough to handle. Scoop each half clean into a medium bowl and set aside. In a saute pan or in your soup pot (for one less dirty dish), melt coconut oil over medium heat for 2 minutes. Saute garlic and onions for 5 minutes then add spices (ginger, nutmeg, turmeric, salt, and pepper) and saute for another 2-3 minutes until onions are softened. Transfer sautéed onion and garlic to a blender or food processor, along with half the squash and half the broth. In batches, blend all remaining ingredients and return to the pot. Heat soup until toasty. Eat this as is or add other vegetables to bulk it up. I like to add chopped peppers or sweet corn (because it’s tasty, not just because I have a freezer full of these things!) Garnish with minced herbs or cheese, though I would suggest chevre over feta. You cannot see my feta garnish because it sinks, rather than floats and becomes cheesy surprise when you eat it. Bon apetit!