From Seed To Soup. The Evolution Of One Tasty Butternut Squash.

It’s midwinter and I’m anxious to be outside in the garden. As a reminder of what is to come, I prepared a hearty butternut squash soup from last year’s harvest.

Waltham Butternut Squash is an easy winter gourd to start from seed. It rapidly grows from seed to vine, covering a fence or trellis in one months time as you can see from the photos below. I start my seeds indoors to give them an early start. By early June they are safe to transplant into the garden. Last year I grew these gourds along the garden fence. Just look how fast they grow!

Squash seedings along fence line in early June.

Squash plants along fence line in late June.

The squash vine has formed a living fence by mid-July.

Looking closer you can see the ripening fruit starting late July.

Here is an up close look at the fruit.

Some squash are fully ripened and ready to be picked in late August. The rest of the harvest will ripen by late September.

Waltham Butternut Squash not only covers a lot of ground, it is also a prolific producer, needing very little care. Just mulch it deeply with straw and hand-pick the insect pests, such as the Mexican bean beetle, and the squash beetle before they become a problem. Don’t apply pesticides, as many of the insects in your garden are actually beneficial, and help to keep the populations of pests down. Rotating your crops from year to year and using companion plants are additional measures taken to organically beat pests.

The ubiquitous Mexican bean beetle, which as an adult looks like an orange lady bug on steroids.

Eggs and larva of the common squash beetle. It is good to know your enemy in all its life stages.

Let beneficial insects do their job by providing habitat in your garden for them to thrive. This insect is seen preying on a Mexican bean beetle larva.

Once the fruits are produced in July, they rapidly mature and are ready to be picked in late August-September. They store extremely well untouched, however; this fall I decided to prepare all my squash ahead of time and store in the freezer so that I could whip up some quick and easy, delicious dishes, like coconut curry butternut squash soup, in a pinch. This soup is nutritious and tasty, and it chases aways the winter doldrums.

Coconut Curry Butternut Squash Soup (makes about 6 servings)

4 cups puréed butternut squash (or substitute with acorn squash, pumpkin, etc.)
1 large onion, chopped
1 small clove garlic, minced (optional)
1 14 oz. can coconut milk
2 teaspoons curry powder
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional, or more, to taste)
salt and pepper to taste

If you haven’t already prepared your squash, the following gives instructions on how to do just that. Otherwise, skip to the next paragraph. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Slice the squash in half and scoop out the seeds and pulp with a spoon. Save for another use or discard. Spread about 1 tablespoon vegetable oil on the bottom of a roasting tray and place the squash halves cut side-down on the tray. Roast for about 30 minutes, or until the flesh feels soft when poked and it has shrunken away from the skins a bit. Flip over and let cool. Once cool enough to handle, scoop out all the flesh and reserve in a bowl.

Heat a heavy-bottomed pot with another tablespoon or so of vegetable oil and sweat the onions over medium-low heat. Season with salt and pepper and cook until translucent, about 8 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the curry powder, cayenne, and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, another 4-5 minutes. Add the puréed squash (or roasted if you just prepared it) and coconut milk. Stir to combine thoroughly and bring just to a boil. Using a hand blender, purée the soup to a smooth consistency (this can also be done by transferring the soup in batches to a food processor or blender). Taste for seasoning. Add vegetable stock or more coconut milk if it’s too thick to your liking.

Mashed squash is the bulk of this bowl of soup, so you can rest assured after eating one that you’ll have had your share of beta-carotene, Vitamin A, and Vitamin C. The coconut milk here adds saturated nut fats instead of cholesterol rich fats associated with cream and butter. Furthermore, coconut contains the antiviral lauric acid, found naturally in mother’s milk. Lauric acid is converted to monolaurin in the body. Monolaurin is the antiviral, antibacterial, and antiprotozoal monoglyceride used by the body to destroy lipid-coated viruses such as influenza.

To read more about coconut oil see http://health.msn.com/health-topics/cholesterol/coconut-oil.

For more on identifying beneficial pests, please check out the following resources:

Pocket Guide for Identifying Beneficial Insects in Your Yard

Beneficial Insects in Your Garden (University of Colorado Publication)

****I am adding this on as an addendum to this post. This soup is absolutely perfect with stale bread croutons. Simple take your stale baguette, slice it up thin, place on a baking sheet and pour some olive oil on top. Season with salt and pepper to your liking, then roast it in the oven until it is nice and toasty. Store in an airtight container and crumble over the soup (or a salad) as needed. Delicious! -and a great reuse of stale bread! 

About The Giving Garden

Shane Morgan is a landscape designer specializing in eco-friendly and edible gardens. A trained ecologist, she understands how to provide clients with beautiful, natural gardens to enjoy all four seasons, installed and maintained with minimal impact on the environment. She is an avid home gardener, committed to sustainable agriculture, native plant gardens, and helping others reduce their Carbon footprint.
This entry was posted in Coconut Curry Butternut Squash Soup, Edibles, Gardening, Pest Control, Recipes, Soups, Vegetable Gardening, winter squash and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to From Seed To Soup. The Evolution Of One Tasty Butternut Squash.

  1. Pingback: How to survive winter with locavore cred intact: Grist reader’s advice | Grist

  2. Pingback: Surviving winter eating local: Grist readers’ advice | Grist

  3. Sharon Long says:

    Thank you for the photos! We loooove butternut squash and I cook a lot of it in the winter. We have purchased 21+ acres and we are in the midst of renovating the very old house and hoping to get to digging up some garden space soon. Seeing how you grow the squash helps me envision how we can do the same on what will initially be only a small piece of ground as we slowly recover and bring back to life this very old farmhouse and farm. :-)

    • Thanks Sharon! Good luck with your future renovations and gardening. I know what it’s like to pour your love into an old home and the land that comes with it. We renovated an old farmhouse on two acres. Did I say renovated? Renovating……it’s a labour of love <3

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