A Staple for Fall

Around here, squash is certainly a sign of the season and staple of fall meals.  I think the first time I was awakened to the glory of winter squash was when I was an apprentice at Shelburne Farms in Vermont.  I worked in the market garden and we planted rows and rows of winter squash: pumpkins, butternut, buttercup, acorn and delicata.  In June we had a long week of working well into the evening to get all the squash plants tucked into the soil and protected from those pesky and potentially detrimental squash bugs and cucumber beetles.  In September we harvested the squash, filling the back of a rickety little pick up truck many times over and leaving piles of golden-fleshed goodness in the greenhouse to cure.  In late October, under gray skies and fluttering snow we spent days filling tractor loads with the mulch we had put down early in the season to provide the squash plants the ideal place to grow.

Away from the garden, I supplied my housmates with ample opportunity to cook all kinds of squash filled recipes.  We roasted it, pureed it, made bread and pies.  Heather introduced us to a butternut squash soup, sweetened with baked apple and spiced with fresh ginger, that has been one of my go to squash recipes in the falls and winters since my time on the farm.  In the years that I haven’t had a garden to supply squash for the winter, I have tried to accumulate a few from the farmers market to last at least a few months into the winter.  This year, so far, the only squash that have made it into my kitchen have been quickly gobbled up.  Eventually I will find a cool, dry place to store a few, but in the mean time I have made squash soup.

Last week, while the butternut squash baked quietly in the oven, I brainstormed a new recipe.  Instead of a sweet apple and ginger soup, I decided to focus on more savory flavors, starting with onion and garlic and then curry.  Instead of cream, I used coconut milk which went perfectly with the curry and added a flavor and texture of its own.  This soup is simple and bright with color and flavor and I’m sure this will become another frequently made winter meal.

Butternut Squash Soup with Coconut Milk and Curry

1 small onion (1/2 cup) diced
1 clove of garlic, minced
olive oil
1 1/2 cups water or vegetable broth
1 medium sized butternut squash (about 2 cups) baked until soft and scooped out of the skin
1 teaspoon curry powder
1/2 teaspoon powdered ginger
A dash of cinnamon
1/2 cup coconut milk (or more to taste)
salt and pepper to taste

In a medium sized pot over medium heat, add a glug of olive oil.  Add the onions and garlic andcook, stirring every so often until they are translucent.  Pour in the water or broth and bring to a gentle simmer.  Add the squash and stir, mashing the squash a bit to combine it with the broth.  Let simmer for about 10 minutes.  Remove from heat, add spices and puree until smooth.  Return to the pot and add coconut milk, stirring to combine.  Bring the soup back to a simmer for a few minutes.  Add salt and pepper to taste.
Serves 2 generously