Peeling a butternut squash is not on my list of favorite kitchen prep work. It’s a messy affair during which the fruit usually slips from my hands at least twice. But it’s that thick skin that makes the butternut one of the stubbornest veggies our garden produces. I pulled the last of them in late August and here it is mid-March and I’ve still got a pantry drawer full of them.
So we’re eating soup and thanking our lucky stars for the magic, super-staying power of this hourglass-shaped gourd. While she makes a lovely soup in autumn’s colors that’s perfect for Samhain gatherings, I find her true value shines in a Stone Soup for this hungry time of year when my body is craving nutrients and there ain’t all that much fresh to put in the pot.
Butternut squash all on her lonesome delivers quite a nutrient punch. She’s low in fat and high in fiber, potassium, vitamin B6, folates, and antioxidant rich vitamin C, which may offer anti-inflammatory properties. “Squash’s tangerine hue, however, indicates butternut’s most noteworthy health perk. The color signals an abundance of powerhouse nutrients known as carotenoids, shown to protect against heart disease. In particular, the gourd boasts very high levels of beta-carotene” (1).
So yes, this is one that the kids may or may not eat given their mood, though each ate copious amounts of it before they decided veggies were gross. My argument that butternut squash is really a fruit bombed, but I’m wagering the long bet that my boys will one day care about nutrition and knowing how to cook a soup, so here goes. This recipe can be kept vegan by using olive oil instead of butter; water or vegetable boullion instead of chicken stock; and leaving out the final splash of dairy.
1. Prep the veggies before starting any on the stove, otherwise you might get caught with an especially cantankerous butternut squash and burn the onions. The ingredients can be changed to reflect whatever you’ve got on hand. Use russet or red potatoes instead of sweet potatoes, or lots of little bunching onions instead of a globe onion or lovage instead of celery. No carrots? Leave them out. For extra spice, add a radish or a turnip. Double or triple ingredients as you choose. It’ll all come out fine in the soup.
1 small onion, chopped
1-2 stalks of celery, chopped
2-3 carrots, chopped
2-3 sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
1-3 butternut squash (1 large, 2 medium or 3 small), peeled, seeded and cubed
2. Place 2 Tablespoons of butter or olive oil in a soup pan over medium heat. Once heated, toss in the onions and celery, stirring them until they are lightly browned, about 2-3 minutes.
3. Add the remainder of the veggies to the pot, stirring them for another 2-3 minutes, until all are lightly browned.
4. Add enough chicken stock or water/vegetable boullion (or a combination of whatever you have, plain water will work too) to the pot to cover the contents completely. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover the pot and simmer for about 40 minutes or until all the veggies are tender when poked through with a fork.
5. Let the ingredients cool first, or let hunger drive you to take your chances, and transfer them to a blender. Blend until smooth.
6. Return soup to the pot and add stock/water until the soup is as thin or as thick as you like. Season with salt, pepper, cinnamon and nutmeg. Serve with a splash of half-and-half or milk.
7. Soup freezes well. Remember to cool it first, especially if you are freezing in glass jars.
This recipe is offered in total rebellion as part of Recipe Rites.
© Jennifer S. and harvestliberty.net, 2012.