Cooler months are approaching in New England which means that winter squash season is upon us. While they may be referred to as “winter squash,” these squash varieties are actually harvested in the fall and keep well through the cold winter months, hence their name. Whether they’re roasted, mashed, puréed into a silky soup or used in risotto or lasagna, we’ve got a soft spot for these nutrient rich powerhouses!
Low in fat and calories, squash delivers tons of nutrients and vitamins. Just one cup of baked butternut squash is said to be rich in vitamins A, B6, C and E as well as magnesium, potassium and manganese. With their mild flavor, they can be easily incorporated into many seasonal dishes without an overwhelming flavor. Many popular varieties (like butternut) can be found in the grocery store peeled and cubed and ready to prepare, which eliminates the hassle of trying to peel them and makes them that much easier to enjoy.
Here are some of our favorites and how we like to prepare them at home.
Acorn: Mildly sweet and nutty flavor and shaped just like it’s name. We love to bake these and add a touch of Cranberry Horseradish Sauce for a seasonal side. They are also delicious stuffed!
Butternut: One of the sweetest varieties of winter squash, this one might be our favorite! We use it in our seasonal favorite Butternut Squash Pasta Sauce and it’s also great for roasting or puréeing in soups. For an interesting twist for a side dish, try this Sweetly Spiced Butternut Squash.
Delicata: Known as the sweet potato squash for it’s creamy consistency similar to a sweet potato, this squash has a mild earthy flavor. We love to slice them and roast them as a seasonal salad topping – try our Winter Salad with Balsamic Fig Dressing for a satisfying main dish salad.
Pumpkin: Choose pumpkins grown specifically for eating rather than carving. We always look for a sugar pumpkin, known for their thick, flesh-packed walls. Each year our Culinary Specialist, Patty Roche, makes a delicious pumpkin themed menu in our Cooking School where she serves her main course in a sugar pumpkin. Check it out here.
Craving squash now? For an interesting flavor twist on classic Butternut Squash Soup, try ours below with Harissa Sauce. Harissa is a flavorful Tunisian hot sauce that is served throughout North Africa and the Middle East. Recipes tend to vary regionally, but we made ours the traditional way with peppers, herbs, spices and olive oil. It’s extremely versatile with a captivating aroma and taste that spices up everything from meat, vegetables and couscous to roasted potatoes, rice and scrambled eggs. We love the slight touch of heat and flavor it adds to the soup!
Butternut Squash Soup
- 2 Tablespoons olive oil
- 2 Tablespoons butter
- ½ cup celery, small dice
- 1 cup carrots, small dice
- 1 cup onion, small dice
- Salt and pepper
- 2 pounds butternut squash, peeled, seeded and diced
- 4-6 cups chicken stock
- 1 cup Stonewall Kitchen Harissa Sauce
- 1 cup chickpeas, drained
- 1½ cups zucchini, ½-inch dice
- Fresh parsley or cilantro chopped for garnish
- Heat oil and butter over medium heat in a large stock pot. Add celery, carrots and onion and sauté until tender. Season with salt and pepper.
- Add butternut squash and chicken stock. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until the squash is tender. Puree soup using an immersion blender or food processor.
- Add Harissa Sauce, chickpeas and zucchini. Simmer 10 minutes or until the zucchini is tender. Serve garnished with parsley or cilantro.