The veggie of the week is our long-necked fall favourite, the butternut squash! Butternuts are technically fruits. They grow on long trailing vines, stretching as far as 15 feet in length. And while they may commonly be called winter squash, butternuts are grown in the summer and harvested in fall. The name is thought to have originated from the man that first grew them, amateur breeder Charles A. Leggett around 1940. He decided to name the new breed the butternut because of its creamy texture and slightly sweet, nutty taste.
The story of the butternut squash is allegedly one of crossbreeding to meet industrial needs. Initially, straight-neck winter squash was not preferred, and the lengthy, curvy winter crookneck was the choice. As the commercial shipping and distribution of squash in bulk increased in demand, the need for winter squash that was stackable and compact grew and inspired the development of modern butternut varieties.
Today butternut squash is a household staple, often enjoyed in the fall or winter, but available year around. Apart from providing warmth on a cool winter day or adding sweetness to your summer salad, the butternut is generously nourishing. It provides vitamins A, C, and E, manganese, potassium, iron, soluble fiber, and magnesium, bringing numerous health benefits.
As if that was not enough, butternuts are easy to add to any meal plan. They can be part of both sweet and savoury dishes, prepared in innumerable ways, and all parts of the butternut squash, apart from the green tip, can be eaten. You can roast the seed for a snack, and while the insides are creamy and delicious, the skin is also edible! This week’s recipe is a recipe for the oncoming fall and winter, for darker evenings and cooler days.
Butternut Squash Soup
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 large yellow onion, chopped
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- 1 (3-pound) butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cubed
- 3 garlic cloves, chopped
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage
- ½ tablespoon minced fresh rosemary
- 1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
- 3 to 4 cups vegetable broth
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Chopped parsley
- Toasted pepitas
- Crusty bread
- Heat oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onion, salt, and several grinds of fresh pepper and sauté until soft, 5 to 8 minutes. Add the squash and cook until it begins to soften, stirring occasionally, for 8 to 10 minutes.
- Add the garlic, sage, rosemary, and ginger. Stir and cook for 30 seconds to 1 minute, until fragrant, then add 3 cups of the broth. Bring to a boil, cover, and reduce heat to a simmer. Cook until the squash is tender, 20 to 30 minutes.
- 3. Let cool slightly and pour the soup into a blender, working in batches if necessary, and blend until smooth. If your soup is too thick, add up to 1 cup more broth and blend. Season to taste and serve with parsley, pepitas, and crusty bread.