Size-6 running shoe meets big blue Hubbard squash. The hard-shelled blimp-like fellow weighed 28 pounds, was 22 inches long, and had a 38-inch waistline. What a tank. It arrived at our doorstep on Halloween and I’m only now getting around to cooking it. Blue Hubbard squash and Long Island cheese pumpkins (I still have one of those too) last for months after their harvest, so long as they are kept in a cool place out of sunlight and don’t have any nicks. Even the slightest bruise or dent, and they’ll rot.
This colossal squash was nearly impossible to cut up. I was reaching for the chain saw when my husband brought out our largest and stiffest kitchen knife. After stabbing cuts all around, he tapped in a cast iron wedge with a mallet until the squash split in half lengthwise. We needed both strength and patience to carve the rest into manageable pieces. I saved the seeds (some to eat, some to plant) and discarded the stringy strands, scraping them off of the flesh.
I roasted about two-thirds of the squash and reserved the rest to cube or grate, and cook from a raw state. To roast a winter squash, brush the cut surfaces with olive oil, sprinkle with salt, and place them cut side down on baking sheets. Roast in a 350-degree oven until tender, 30-40 minutes, depending on the type and size of the squash. (This squash was so big that I cooked it in two batches so that it would fit in the oven!)
I figure that this beauty will take the better part of a month to use up. It stores well in the refrigerator but I did freeze some roasted squash, pureed to remove air bubbles. Squash gets watery when frozen, and therefore, I eventually use it in soup or as a base for risotto.
Winter squash is a versatile vegetable. In addition to being nutritious and tasty on its own, it can be sweet, used as a main ingredient in muffins, quick breads, scones, pies, or jam. Or it can be savory, combined with cabbage, root vegetables and other vegetables in soups, gratins, pasta dishes, risotto, or bread pudding. With so much squash on hand, I will be especially adventurous to try some things I’ve never done before.
Other than the squash jam with vanilla and rum that I posted a few days ago, first out of the box is soup. I normally would make this soup with cubes of raw butternut squash, but I used the mashed roasted squash instead. Make sure to puree it and remove any stringy bits. This is a delicious and filling soup that will warm you up.
Curried Winter Squash and Apple Soup
1 medium onion, diced
1 medium apple, peeled and diced
1 tbsp butter or vegetable/olive oil
1 tbsp good quality curry powder
Pinch of cayenne or to taste
3 c mashed roasted squash
4 c light chicken stock vegetable broth or water
Garnish: sour cream, chopped apples, and toasted squash, sunflower or pumpkin seeds
In a large saucepan over medium heat, lightly sauté the onion and apple in butter or oil until the onion is translucent and the apple is soft, about 4 minutes. Add the curry powder and cayenne and cook, stirring, until aromatic, 1-2 minutes. Add the squash and liquid, bring to a simmer and cook uncovered, stirring occasionally, until the mixture is well combined, about 30 minutes. Add more liquid if the soup seems too thick. Puree in a food processor or using an immersion blender. Adjust the seasonings. Garnish and serve.