Butternut Squash Autumn Stew

The air feels crisp and cool, leaves are creating a beautiful mosaic of colors across the landscape and the days are growing shorter, which means it’s time to make soup!

Every year I always elect to craft a butternut squash stew; to me it screams fall. Therefore every year as the sales on butternut squashes begin I pick one up. I must be blocking the fact that every year it’s actually me who’s screaming (and fall is not mentioned once in said screaming). I wonder why I never remember how awful it is to deal with butternut squashes probably some psychological blockage. Well I am reminding you now to save you the trouble. They are literally the worst vegetable. And here’s why:

  1. They are impossible to slice into when raw. Are they made of steel or what?
  2. You also cannot peel them when raw. They wear the armor of the gods.
  3. After you cook them, you can’t peel them without burning the skin right off your fingers.

    On the other hand, butternut squash is also one of the most delicious vegetables and they’re packed with vitamins and other wonderful things your body needs. So here’s my solution, buy a bag of frozen, cubed butternut squash and save yourself the hacking, prying, swearing, and crying.

    If you, like me, enjoy torturing yourself this is how you tackle the Monty-Python-and-the-Holy-Grail-bunny-like squash:

    (Aside: this is a somewhat obscure reference so I will spell it out for you: the knights in the movie, Monty Python and the Holy Grail, underestimated the rabbit because it was cute and cuddly and did not intimidate them; then the bunny lurched at one of them and ate his face off. The butternut squash appears inviting and agreeable but then it turns on you becoming an impenetrable fortress. Was this allegory too much of a leap?)

    Right, sorry about the silliness… Back to squash (which is in no way silly):
    1. Preheat the oven to 375°F
    2. Cut the squash in half. Spoon out seeds and goop (technical term); save seeds.
    3. Pour a thin layer of water into a baking pan or cookie sheet with sides.
    4. Place the cut side of the squash face down in the water.
    5. Slide tray into oven and bake for 40 minutes or until fork easily pierces flesh of squash.

    Toss the seeds with salt and toast in toaster oven until crispy 🙂

    While the squash is baking, prepare your other veggies. Finely chop 1 medium onion, peel 3 potatoes and an apple, then chop, setting one potato aside from the others.

    Bring 3 1/2 cups of chicken broth to a boil. Add 1 1/2 pound chicken thighs and boil until cooked through, about 15 minutes. Remove chicken from broth and place on a plate to cool. Pour broth into a bowl.

    Meanwhile bring about 3 cups of water to boil in a separate pot. Add the apple and two of the potatoes. Cook until tender then drain water and add to a food processor. When squash is finished baking scoop half of the squash into the food processor and set the other half aside to cool. Pulse the potato, apple and squash until smooth. This thickens and adds a creaminess to the soup/stew without adding fat.

    Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add onions and the third potato cook until onions are translucent, add 2 minced cloves garlic, 1 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano, 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (we enjoy spicy food here, feel free to reduce or omit this ingredient if you prefer non-spicy), 1/8 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg, 1/8 teaspoon allspice and 1/8 teaspoon ginger, 1/8 teaspoon ground mustard, and 1/8 teaspoon celery salt. Stir until you catch a strong whiff of garlic (about 30 seconds), then pour in the reserved chicken broth. Reduce heat to simmer.

    With a fork and knife and fingers… remove the skins from the chicken. Then remove the chicken from the bones. Add chicken to simmering pot. Then add pureed potato, apple, squash mixture to the pot. Add one 15-oz can petite diced tomatoes as well (with liquid).

    Return to the other half of the squash that you set aside. Cut cubes into the squash and remove skin. Add squash cubes to the pot. Then add 1 cup (ish) chickpeas/garbanzo beans. Stir until everything is heated. Add 1 teaspoon salt and 1 teaspoon pepper (or to taste).

    Serve over cooked quinoa or brown rice or with bread.

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    Ingredients

    • 1.5 pounds butternut squash, halved and seeded
    • 2 tablespoons olive oil
    • 1.5 lb chicken thighs
    • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
    • 1 can diced petite tomatoes
    • 2 cloves garlic, minced
    • 3 1/2 cup chicken broth
    • 3 large russet potatoes, peeled and chopped
    • 1 apple, peeled and cubed
    • 1 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
    • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
    • 1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
    • 1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
    • 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
    • 1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
    • 1/8 teaspoon ground mustard
    • 1/8 teaspoon celery salt
    • salt and pepper to taste (about 1 teaspoon each)
    • 1 cup garbanzo beans

    Well that’s a long list now isn’t it… trust me it’s worth it! (See that bowl of apples? my grandma gave me even more after I made the apple butter… look out for apple cake and applesauce posts coming soon!)

    What’s your favorite fall soup?

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