Fall is the time of changing leaves, cooler temperatures, and a different variety of seasonal produce. One of the interesting foods we see in the grocery stores this time of year is winter squash. Winter squash are actually picked in the summer, but because they have a tough “skin” that helps them last well into the winter months, they got the name “winter” squash. Winter squash includes many types of squash such as butternut, acorn, spaghetti, delicata, hubbard, kabocha, sugar pumpkin, turban, and many more.
These squashes come in various colors from golden yellow, deep green, and bright orange. Winter squash is very versatile and can be used in soups, stews, casseroles, pies, cakes, muffins, vegetable dishes, or featured on their own. They can be cooked in many ways, such as steaming, braising, roasting, baking, boiling, grilling, and microwaving. Most have a sweet or slightly sweet flavor and the texture may be like a sweet potato or a bit grainier. Spaghetti squash is unique as once it is cooked, its yellow, golden flesh separates into strings that resemble spaghetti. The seeds are also edible and delicious.
Winter squash is packed with nutrients–most are good sources of lutein, zeaxanthin, beta carotene (the precursor to vitamin A), vitamin C, B6, potassium, magnesium, protein, and fiber.
These fruits are a triple threat: eye-appealing, versatile, and highly nutritious. If you have never cooked with winter squash here is a simple recipe to try:
Butternut Squash Soup (Source: Allrecipes.com)
Prep Time: 20 mins
Cook Time: 45 mins
Total Time: 1 hr. 5 mins
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1 small onion, chopped
- 1 stalk celery, chopped
- 1 medium carrot, chopped
- 2 medium potatoes, cubed
- 1 medium butternut squash – peeled, seeded, and cubed
- 1 (32 fluid ounce) container chicken stock
- salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- Gather all ingredients.
- Melt butter in a large pot over medium heat, and cook onion, celery, carrot, potatoes, and squash until lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Pour in enough chicken stock to cover vegetables.
- Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to low, cover pot, and simmer until all vegetables are tender, about 40 minutes.
- Transfer soup to a blender and process until smooth. Return to the pot and mix in any remaining stock to reach desired consistency. Season with salt and pepper.
- Serve hot and enjoy!