Either I don’t get out very much or I’m just very easily excited. The mere sight of a 12-pound butternut squash at a local roadside stand last week was enough to send me into a happy frenzy. The size itself was impressive enough, but my bundle of joy only cost me a whopping $2. If my math is correct, that equates to about 17 cents per pound. When was the last time you bought any veggie for that price?
Shaped like a bell, butternut squash has a bulbous end and a smooth, dull yellowish skin. It has deep-orange flesh and texture similar to a pumpkin. The more orange the flesh, the riper, drier and sweeter the squash is.
Once home with my bouncing “baby” butternut, I needed to figure out what to do with all that squash. Although there are many ways to prepare it, I love it roasted.
When I was young, one of my favorite side dishes at family dinners was butternut squash, halved, filled with butter and brown sugar, and then roasted until it was soft and sweet. It tasted like candy, but technically qualified as a vegetable – a loophole I still enjoy exploiting.
But come on, with just two people at our house I knew we’d be eating roasted squash from now until Thanksgiving.
So I texted as I’ve never texted before.
“I’m in a squash paradise and I’m willing to share my bounty,” I told my daughter Leslie.
“Wouldn’t little Liam enjoy some pureed squash?” I asked.
Pureed squash tastes like baby food. Packed with beta-carotene, it’s healthy, colorful and tasty.
After 15 minutes in the pressure cooker I removed my fork-tender squash. Working in batches, I scooped out the flesh and put it into the food processor, pureeing it until smooth. Then I transferred my mixture into ice cube trays. Once frozen, I stored the frozen cubes in plastic bags, labeled and dated. My 8-month old grandson’s going to love it.
And because I still had squash left over, I pulled out my soup pot.
Most people think of a scorching summer day as the ultimate season for cold soups, but au contraire. I made this luscious, smooth butternut squash soup that includes the subtle sweetness of coconut milk and warmth of Indian curry. It satisfied a multitude of summer cravings.
All you need is a salad of summer lettuces and a loaf of crusty bread and dinner is served. There’s nothing better on a warm summer night.
Lynn Kessel is a freelance food columnist. For more of her recipes, visit southshore.tbo.com and enter the search words Lynn Kessel.
Curried Butternut Squash Soup
2 to 3 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon curry powder
1 medium butternut squash (about 2 pounds), peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
1 (14-ounce) can unsweetened coconut milk
2 cups chicken broth
1 tablespoon maple syrup
1 tablespoon Asian fish sauce
1 teaspoon Sriacha or Asian chile sauce
Warm the oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onions and cook, stirring, until they begin to soften, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for another 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in the curry powder, and cook for 1 minute more. Add the squash, coconut milk, broth, maple syrup, fish sauce and Sriacha and stir well. Raise the heat to bring to a boil, and then reduce the heat and simmer, covered, until the squash is soft – about 30 to 40 minutes. Season with salt, to taste.
Remove from heat and puree with an immersion blender or in batches in a blender until smooth.
Serve garnished with wedges of lime.