By March here in New England, cold weather comfort foods are less and less on our menu. The days are getting longer and the promise of spring is just around the corner. Fresh foods and home grown options are so close.
Unfortunately, Mother Nature does not have a calendar this year and it is still wicked cold. So, let’s keep the soup coming. My absolute favorite soup is Butternut Squash Soup. About 6 years ago, I grew my very first butternut squash in my garden here in Connecticut. I was so thrilled with the process. Squashes are very easy to grow and take over half of your yard with vines and plate sized bright yellow squash flowers. You start to wonder HOW you will ever eat all those squash.
Luckily, Butternut can last a pretty long time after harvest. They are a winter squash and are typically not harvested until September or October when they are thick skinned and that signature tan color. Cut the stem about 2 inches from the fruit – this helps to keep away insect or disease from the fruit. If there are any blemishes, eat those first. Make sure to harvest before frost! Once harvested, they must be cured before storage. Curing requires a week or two of thickening of the skin. The fruits need to be kept in a dry area in the sun so they will harden (better for their winter storage). Once cured, give them a nice clean wipedown to remove any possible bacteria or mold from the garden with a clean, light vinegar and water rinse…..heavy on the water.
Now they are ready for winter storage (mine go in the basement) and can last from 3-6 months. Bam.
You will have enough squash to make soup all winter, so let’s get cooking….I am going to share my simplified recipe for Butternut Squash Soup using my Vitamix mixer. It makes hot soup that you can just pour from the mixer directly to bowl. But, all of this can be done on a stovetop too with an immersion blender or whatever ya got.
First, cut that squash in half and scoop out the seeds (wash them and lay them out to dry in the sun for about a week, then save them for planting next year or roasting). Throw that squash in the oven on a sheet pan cut side down alongside a halved onion, and some large peeled carrots. Roast it all together to squishy, sweet perfection.
Once roasted, throw all the veggies into the Vitamix and add enough liquid to blend. I use coconut milk and broth. But you can use whatever you like!
Add a sprinkle of Cumin and salt and pepper to taste and press that Hot Soup button. Now go pet your cats for a few minutes. Voila – lunchtime! I love to throw a handful of Pumpkin Seeds or Croutons on top of the soup. It’s so thick and creamy, they just float on top. Cinnamon and Nutmeg and cream are great compliments to butternut squash as well, but I find the coconut milk and cumin go perfectly together because I love those flavors. But, you choose!
No measurements, cooking times or temperatures needed here. Just eyeball it and have fun. Soup is one of those recipes that are meant to be played with. Maybe by the time you perfect your version, it will finally be spring.