The sweet deep orange flesh of butternut squash possesses one of the most desired tastes and textures of its kind.
As this winter gourd slowly roasts in the oven, its tough beige skin begins to crackle, developing a smoky black char. About 45 minutes in, the texture of its flesh has converted from firm to velvety smooth, and the flavor is more concentrated. The aroma of the butternut squash fills engulfs the kitchen, always keeping me in anticipation for the arrival of this amazing fall harvest side.
This hearty winter fall and winter staple, butternut squash is loaded with essential nutrients to keep you healthy through the cooler times of the year.
Due to its deep orange pigmented flesh, butternut squash is loaded with the essential antioxidant beta-carotene, enough to supply almost 150% of the daily value of Vitamin A in a single cup serving of cooked flesh. Butternut squash is also a very good source of dietary fiber, and it supplies Vitamin C, magnesium, manganese and a good amount of potassium.
There are several ways to incorporate butternut squash into your meals, but my favorite is to transform the roasted squash into a flavorful soup.
This week I infused my soup with light coconut milk, as well as seasonings to give it a curry-like presence. You can use a simple curry powder as well if you don’t have the individual spices, or go in a completely different direction using thyme, oregano or parsley. Serve with warm toasted sourdough bread and you have yourself a delicious seasonal meal.
ROASTED BUTTERNUT COCONUT SOUP
1 medium butternut squash
1 medium onion, peeled and quartered
2, 13 1/2-ounce cans coconut milk (I used light)
1 cup vegetable or chicken broth
1 teaspoon seasoned salt (add more at end to taste once done)
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves
Fresh cracked pepper
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Cut butternut squash in half lengthwise, and scoop out seeds and membrane. Drizzle the exposed flesh with olive oil and season lightly. Toss the quartered onion with olive oil as well.
Place the squash and onion in a roasting dish (squash flesh side up), and place them in the oven. Cook for about 1 hour or until fork-tender.
Remove the flesh from the skin, and place flesh in a blender along with the onion. Add remaining ingredients and blend at low setting until smooth.
Pour contents into a pot and simmer for about 10 minutes until warm, stirring occasionally.
Taste and add additional seasoning as desired to taste. You can add a little brown sugar if you want a slightly sweeter finish. You can also add more broth for a thinner texture.
Yield: Serves 6.