I don't know how you feel about autumn, but for me, it's my favorite season. It is Mother Nature’s irony that as we approach winter, we benefit from one huge show of colors. Not just the golds and burgundies of the changing leaves, but lawns that have been stressed and beaten down by the humid and harsh summer take on a fresh, green and spring-like color, benefitting from the cool fall nights.
We also take advantage of the final harvest of the year, and this week's column we focus on squash, specifically a creamy squash soup that my wife Liz makes so darn well.
As a kid, I never really liked squash. Now, I love it. Squash was one of the three domesticated crops of the Native Americans. In the same field, they would plant squash, corn and beans. The beans would climb up the corn stalks, which provided shade for the squash. The squash plants would cover the ground, limiting weed growth. The bean plants also provided nitrogen for the soil as the plant died out.
Who needs crop rotation?
Summer squash (zucchini is a good example) is technically a fruit, which is harvested early while it is young and tender. Winter squash is harvested later in the year when the fruit gets larger and firms up. Today's soup uses butternut squash, considered a winter squash.
Creamy Squash Soup
- 4 butternut squash, halved
- 2 Tbs unsalted butter
- 1 yellow onion, chopped finely
- 2 tart, green apples - peeled, cored and halved
- 1 to 2 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1 qt. chicken or vegetable stock
- 1/2 tsp nutmeg
- 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper (optional)
Cut the squash in half (careful – many digits have been sliced cutting raw winter squash) and scoop out seeds with a spoon. If you want to get fancy, you can rinse the seeds and toast them to add to the soup as a crunchy garnish.