Acorn, buttercup, butternut, delicata, hubbard, spaghetti, turban—a bounty of colorful winter squash and pumpkins overflow grocery produce tables every fall. A fruit (really!) native to North America, and a member of the gourd family like melons and pumpkins, squash is super-easy to stir into hearty autumn soups.
Add squash to your diet for good health
“Winter squashes, especially pumpkin, are one of the most nutritionally valuable foods known to man,” says Steven Pratt, MD, coauthor of SuperFoods. Loaded with good-for-you nutrients, the richly colored interior flesh is the first clue to squashes' nutritional benefits, which include:
Large amounts of carotenoids, the deep orange-, yellow-, or red-colored plant compounds that help fight a variety of diseases, including heart disease, various cancers, and eye diseases
Vitamins C and E, plus potassium, magnesium, and folic acid
High in fiber
Low in calories
Make an easy squash soup the star of your weeknight menu
For a quick and easy squash soup, use fresh, canned, or frozen squash, or canned 100% pumpkin purée (not pumpkin pie mix, which includes sugar and spices) as the soup base.
To prepare squash—If using fresh squash, peel a thin-skinned variety such as hubbard or butternut. Cut squash in half and use a large spoon to remove seeds and any fibers; cut squash into 2-inch (5 cm) chunks and set aside. Two 1-pound (.45 kg) squash will serve four people.
If a squash is difficult to peel, or if you are using a different variety from the two above, use a small knife to poke a few holes in the squash; then bake at 350ºF (177ºC) for 40 minutes or microwave for 12 minutes before slicing.
To make savory curried squash soup—Using a heavy 5.5-quart (5 L) pot, sauté 1/3 cup (53 g) diced yellow onion in 1 tablespoon (15 ml) olive oil until translucent (about 5 minutes). Add squash, 1 quart (951 ml) chicken or vegetable stock, and 2 cups (475 ml) water. Cook covered over medium heat until squash is soft and blends into stock. Add more stock to thin mixture, if desired. Add 1/2 tablespoon (3.15 g) curry powder (or to taste), salt and pepper to taste, and 1 cup (238 ml) half-and-half; stir to blend. Serve hot, but do not let soup boil after adding half-and-half.