Winter squash is pure sorcery. Every time I cut into a butternut squash, I think about that old fable where the porridge pot overflows until it destroys an entire town in its mushy wake. You buy a squash and think, "Hm. This squash is a reasonable size." And then you take it home and start cutting into it, and you realize, as your kitchen counter becomes completely overtaken with pale orange cubes, that you have purchased the never-ending squash. After a cooking gig I did recently, I had a squash glut on my hands: kabocha, delicata, acorn, butternut. It was taking over my counter space. And my life. Something had to give.
Since a single squash yields so much edible goodness, I knew I couldn't tackle my squash issue with just one recipe. To conquer the squash, I had to puree. I had to bake. I had to get really creative. I was perusing cake recipes and found a pumpkin yogurt cake that sounded delicious. Rather than schlep out to buy a can of pumpkin puree, I replaced the pumpkin with the same amount of roasted, mashed acorn squash (me: 1; squash: 0). And with the remaining acorn squash that remained, I threw it (along with some carrots that were haunting my veggie drawer) into a big pot with some chicken stock, spices, and coconut milk, and I had myself a soup (I'm now facing a soup glut, but that's another story...).
The soup is rich, slightly sweet, warming, and exotic–the perfect bowl of healthy yumminess to curl up with on a crisp day. And the cake came out great. Not too sweet, with an earthy "what is that?" quality that makes it really unique. With a cup of good coffee, it's sublime.
More good news: both these recipes are incredibly easy. So if you find yourself with an abundance of winter squash, don't panic. Keep calm and cook on. Happy cooking!
SPICED ACORN SQUASH & CARROT SOUP
2 tablespoons coconut oil (other other oil)
1 small onion, cut into chunks
1 acorn squash, peel removed and cut into chunks (or other hard winter squash)
5-6 carrots, peeled and cut into chunks
1 jalapeno, diced, with seeds (or removed seeds or omit if you don't like heat)
1 can light coconut milk
1/2 box low-salt chicken broth
1/2 tsp. cumin
1/4 tsp. cloves
1/4 tsp. garam masala
1/2 tsp. turmeric
salt and black pepper
cilantro and sliced jalapeno for garnish
1. In a large pot, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Saute the onions and jalapeno, seasoning with salt and pepper, for a few minutes, until getting a little soft.
2. Add the carrots and squash, then add the spices and more salt and pepper. Stir around, coating in the oil.
3. Add the coconut milk and chicken broth. Bring to a boil and cook until the squash and carrots are very tender.
4. With a spider or slotted spoon, transfer the squash/onion/carrots out of the cooking liquid and into a food processor, and process, using a little cooking liquid if needed, until you have a smooth puree. (You might have to do this in two batches).
5. Return the puree to the cooking liquid and stir until mixed. Thin out with a little more chicken broth if needed. Taste and adjust seasoning. Reheat to steaming and serve, garnishing with cilantro and sliced jalapeno if desired. Enjoy!
ACORN SQUASH YOGURT CAKE (adapted slightly from www.giverecipe.com)
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon cinnamon
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 sticks unsalted butter, softened (I used salted)
1 and 1/2 cup sugar
4 large eggs
1 cup roasted and mashed acorn squash (or pumpkin puree, or other squash puree)
1 cup Greek yogurt
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
2. Butter a 12-cup bundt pan (or spray with nonstick spray) and set aside.
3. In a large bowl, combine, flour, salt, cinnamon, and baking powder, mixing to combine.
4. In the bowl of a stand mixer, add sugar, vanilla extract, and butter, and mix until fluffy.
5. Beat in eggs one at a time.
6. Add yogurt and squash puree and mix until combined.
7. Add dry ingredients and stir with a spatula until just incorporated.
8. Scoop into bundt pan and bake for about an hour, until a knife inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean.
9. Cool for about 15 minutes, then turn out onto a plate or cooling rack. Let cool, then slice and enjoy!