An Autumn Greeting
"Come," said the Wind to the Leaves one day. "Come over the meadow and we will play. Put on your dresses of red and gold. For summer is gone and the days grow cold."
Burning bright hues of amber, orange and yellow are symbolic with the autumn season but these colors aren't only found in the changing leaves. Squash is also in season and this butternut squash soup recipe is the perfect remedy for those cold days when your body and your spirit need a little touch of warmth.
The word squash is derived from the Native American Narragansett word askutasquash, which means "thing eaten raw." It was documented by Rhode Island founder Roger Williams in 1643 in his book, "A Key into the Language of America."
Though squash is commonly considered to be a vegetable for culinary purposes, it's actually a fruit. The rule of thumb is that any part of a plant that contains seeds is a fruit. Vegetables are leafy parts of the plant or roots, like spinach or carrots. Thus, the exterior of the squash is known as the flesh and the interior is known as the pulp. Squash has many culinary uses but is also grown competitively. (See my photos of the giant pumpkins from the Bloomsburg Fair!) Squash was also made into pottery by people of the ancient Moche culture in Peru.
In North America, there are generally two groups of squash: summer squash (immature fruit) or autumn/winter squash (mature fruit). The most popular type of summer squash is zuchinni. It is easy to grow and requires little cooking time or preparation. Winter squash, like acorn squash or butternut squash, is a bit more heartier and requires a lengthy cooking time. (But oooohhh is it worth the wait!) Pumpkins and gourds are also winter squash.
|Lady loves to lay next to the winter squash (pumpkins and gourds)!|
Butternut squash, a large vibrant yellowish/orange fruit, is at it's peak during the fall season. It's known in Australia and New Zealand as a butternut pumpkin. It is thought to have originated in Mexico and is very popular in Mexican cuisine. Grown on a vine, butternut squash has a yellow flesh and bright orange pulp. The ripper it is, the sweeter the flavor.
Butternut squash can be used in both sweet and savory dishes. It is used in soups, salads, casseroles, breads, muffins, etc. It's firm texture also makes it easy to grill and it is commonly found in South America as a side dish to barbecues.
Butternut squash is a good source of fiber, Vitamin C, Vitamin A, magnessium and potassium. The best part about it is that it's cheap and lasts for days. You can buy it and use it weeks later, at your own convenience. Here is a classic recipe for a thick, velvety, flavorful butternut squash soup. It's healthy, easy to make and guilt-free because it's made without any cream.
|A large butternut squash cut in half. When using, make sure to wash and discard the seeds.|
Fairytale Butternut Squash Soup
3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon of butter (or butter substitute to save calories)
1 large butternut squash, halved lengthwise, washed, with the seeds discarded (about 3 lbs)
1 large yellow cooking onion, chopped
3 stalks of celery, chopped
2 tablespoons of fresh sage, chopped (a bunch of large leaves)
6 cups of chicken broth
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Rub the olive oil on the cut side of the squash and season with salt and pepper. Place on a baking sheet and roast about 45 minutes until tender. Remove from the oven and let cool.
In a dutch oven over medium-high heat, add 2 tablespoons of olive oil and butter. Add onion and celery. Sprinkle some salt. Saute about 10 minutes until tender.
Scoop out the butternut squash flesh (discarding the skin) into the pot. Add the chicken broth and a little salt to pot and bring to a boil. Turn heat down to low and let simmer for 30 minutes.
Remove from the heat and use a food processor or hand immersion blender to puree the soup. You can also use a blender to puree the soup but make sure you work in batches! Return to the pot and keep the soup warm.
Optional: You can give this soup a mexican flare by adding some toasted pumpkin seeds (pepitas) and a drizzle of sour cream. For a hearty Italian flare, try dipping in some crusty bread, or hearty pumpernickel croutons and a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese. But it's equally as good on its own! :-)