I have to say, I was pretty darn proud of the winter squash that my garden turned out this year. Delicata, red kuri, sugar pie pumpkin, carnival, and oodles of kabocha. I adore these colorful fall and winter collectibles for a number a reasons. 1) They’re nutrient rock stars, full of beta carotene, vitamin C, and other antioxidants to boost our immune system during cold season, 2) They’re a great source of soluble fiber, which not only helps stabilize our blood sugar and enhance satiety but also feeds our gut bacteria, which (if in proper balance) can improve digestive health and immune function, 3) they’re extremely versatile and can be used in soups, stews, baked goods, smoothies, puddings, or simply roasted to caramelized perfection, and 4) the can literally last for months! I think I finally cooked my last butternut squash from last summer’s (2011) harvest this June!
If you’re following a Paleo eating plan you may have prepared sweet potatoes just about every way imaginable since they’re usually our go-to starchy veggie. Perhaps a littler variety is in order to bring some excitement back to your plate! Yes, that’s right, I’m that person that thinks vegetables can (and should) be exciting. Nobody wants to eat food that tastes boring and dull, so I say let’s capitalize on flavors of the season to create something delicious, nutrient dense, and comforting all-in-one.
I’m a big fan of velvety smooth soups this time of year: carrot ginger, butternut squash, roasted tomato bisque. Not only that, I really like a little sweet and savory, hence this recipe. Preparing winter squash is easy, really it is. Don’t let the odd shapes and tough exterior intimidate you from getting into the “meat” of the squash. The most difficult part of the entire process is cutting the squash in half, in fact I’ve come pretty close to nixing the knife altogether and simply smashing the squash on the ground and roasting the pieces. A decent serrated knife will usually do the trick though, and it’s no biggie if the halves are uneven. If this is truly a giant pain for you I’d encourage you to consider making a large batch, maybe two or three squash, and freezing the cooked flesh to save time and hassle next time you’re in need of it. Also, you should feel free to substitute different types of winter squash or pumpkins for one another. If a recipe calls for butternut squash and you happen to have an acorn squash on hand go ahead and use it. The only real difference is that some have more moisture while others are flakier and may require slightly more liquid in the recipe, an easy fix.
Check out this video to help walk you through how to cook winter squash. Just ignore the narrator’s suggestion to cover with sugar!
Creamy Kabocha Pear Soup
- 1 medium kabocha squash
- 1 T FOC ( fat of choice – coconut oil, butter, ghee — I used tallow)
- 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
- 2 pears, chopped
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 1/2 t salt
- 1 t cinnamon
- 1 t nutmeg
- 1/4-1/2 t cayenne
- 2-3 t fresh thyme (I used lemon thyme)
- 1 can coconut milk
- 3 c stock (homemade bone broth is preferred)
- 1/4 c fresh parsley, minced
- salt and pepper to taste
To roast your squash:
- -Cut squash in half on the horizontal plane. Scoop seeds and stringy pulp out.
- -Place flesh side down in casserole dish (I used a pyrex just big enough to fit both halves) and fill dish with about an inch of water.
- -Roast for 45 min -1 hr. You’ll know if it’s cooked through by pressing down on the skin of the squash to see if it “gives.”
- -Remove from oven and allow to cool so that you can handle the squash without burning your hands! Scoop flesh from skin and place in bowl to mash by hand or directly into a food processor to puree. Place puree into bowl but don’t worry about cleaning your food processor yet; you’ll use it again before too long.
To make your soup:
- -In heavy bottomed pot, heat FOC over medium heat. Add onions and toss to coat. Saute for 3-5 minutes.
- -Add pear, stir and allow to cook for another 3 minutes or so. Add garlic stirring constantly for 30 seconds to prevent burning.
- -Add salt, spices and thyme. Stir until well distributed and fragrant. Place mixture into food processor and puree until smooth.
- Note: Be sure you vent your food processor to prevent the steam and contents from exploding all over you and your kitchen!
- -Place kabocha, coconut milk, and stock/broth into pot and bring to simmer. Add onion/pear mixture back to pot and stir until well incorporated and smooth.
- -Allow to simmer for 15 minutes or so and add salt and pepper to taste. Add fresh parsley a few minutes before serving. Enjoy!
Like so many soups and stews, this one gets better over time as the flavors hang out and get to know each other. If you’re lucky you’ll have leftovers!