These lovely Carnival squashes caught my eye while in New Leaf Community Market with Amy F. the other day. I was craving butternut squash soup, but figured these would probably make a good substitute in my recipe, inspired by “Spicy Squash Soup” in the Open Hand Celebration Cookbook. (The Carnivals did make a great soup, I found out tonight! A little sweeter and more sweet potato-ey than butternut.)
Don’t let thoughts of trying to peel these small, lumpy, hard-as-a-rock little squashes scare you. All you have to be able to do is cut them in half with a trustworthy knife, then the rest is easy — steam roast them in the oven until they are soft enough to scoop out of their skins, then simmer gently with the other ingredients for a delicious soup that can be dressed up or down depending on garnishes.
Winter Squash Soup
- 3 Carnival squash (or one kabocha or butternut)
- 1 yellow onion, diced
- 1 jalapeño pepper, minced
- 1 tbsp unsalted butter
- 2 tsp ground cumin
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 32 oz. box chicken broth Imagine brand
- garnishes: toasted pine nuts, sour cream or crème fraîche, fried sage leaves
Cook the squash: Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Wash squash and carefully cut a thin slice off the bottom (non-stem end) of each squash. Using a large chef’s knife, cut each squash in half starting from bottom and cutting through stem side. (This is best done by placing the knife in the flesh of the squash then giving a good, firm whack of knife+squash on the cutting board or counter.) Scoop out and discard seeds from each squash half. Place flesh-side down, in an 8x11 inch glass baking dish. Add about an inch of water to the pan, cover with foil and bake 1 hour (about 30 minutes for kabocha; it cooks faster than most).
Heat butter in large soup pot or dutch oven. Add onions and jalapeno and cook, covered on low heat for 10 – 15 minutes until onions are soft, but not browned. Scoop flesh from cooked squash halves and add to the onions. (Be careful not to scoop any of the tough skin. If you accidentally do, remove it and discard.) Add chicken broth, cumin and salt and simmer gently for 30 minutes then remove pot from heat. Using a hand-held immersion blender, purée the soup. Garnish as you like and enjoy!
Recipe Notes / Tips
- I often cook the squash a day or two ahead, whenever I might happen to be using the oven for something else, like when roasting a chicken or potatoes. This way you not only get the most bang out of your already hot oven, but you make the soup preparation day really easy.
- Substitute any winter squash in this recipe. One large, or two small butternut squash fit the proportions I give above, but you can wing it.
- If the soup is too thick, simply thin with a little water.