Butternut, meet Buttercup!

Butternut, meet Buttercup!

Butternut, meet Buttercup!

buttercup squash

How ugly is this squash??? Seriously.  Since the winter already brings us few appealing vegetables, it sure doesn’t help when they’re not at all attractive.  Luckily this gnarly guy transforms into something so silky and delicious that all squash haters will reconsider.

Cozy comfort food is what we’re all looking for as the weather turns cold…and freaken freezing this week!  A bowl of soup can really hit the spot, complete with warmth and fuzzies.

If you’ve ever gone squash shopping (typical outing, right?) you would see a big mess of bumpy, odd shaped and sometimes scary looking vegetables, all vying for your attention.  Which one do you pick?  How do you even cook any of them?  Maybe just pass on by and ignore them? Or choose the package of pre-cut butternut squash to be safe?  Ugh, boring.  Pick the ugliest one and give him a chance!  He can’t help it and he needs a home.  He’s round (kind of flattened a little), has some warts (nice) and takes on a blackish/blue/dark green colour on the outside.  Oh so handsome and appetizing!  BUT once you open this baby up you’ll see his bright and beautiful orange flesh, perfect for roasting and making a new kind of soup!  Move over Butternut, meet Buttercup!  Don’t be afraid of him, at least he has a cute name 🙂

Buttercup squash is very similar to sweet potato in texture.  It’s not as watery, it’s more starchy, and ends up creating a smooth and velvety soup.  It’s the Ugly Duckling turned Swan and it’s packed with rich vitamin A (20/20 vision people!), potassium and fibre.  More importantly it’s delicious!

Here’s the basic recipe for a big batch of creamy Roasted Buttercup Soup.    Instructions are not too specific since soup recipes should be make mostly with love…and whatever you have in the vegetable drawer.  Soup is a canvas for packing in healthy ingredients and some creativity!

Roasted Buttercup Soup

1 large buttercup squash (cut in half, seeds scooped out)

Coconut oil

Cinnamon, cayenne pepper, salt and pepper

Leek or medium peeled onion

large carrot and parsnip (or two carrots)

3-4 slices ginger root

3-4 cloves peeled and smashed garlic

apple or pear

1 Tbsp fresh or 1 tsp dried thyme

water (or broth, but water works…and it’s cheap)

dry red lentils (about 3/4 cup)

organic coconut milk (from a can, about 1 cup)

Maple syrup (might need it, might not)

lime or lemon juice

1.)  Preheat oven to 400 degF.  Spread each half of the squash with some coconut oil and season with salt, pepper, cinnamon and a pinch of cayenne (or more if you’re kinda spicy).  Roast, face down on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or foil, for 45-50 minutes, or until flesh is soft enough to scoop out easily.  Let cool while you get the soup going.

2.) In a large soup pot dump in chopped (and you can rough chop) leek, carrot, parsnip, ginger, garlic, apple and thyme.  Add a scoop (maybe 1-2 Tbsp) of coconut oil, a good pinch of salt and pepper and saute veggies for 10 minutes on med-high heat.  Veggies should appear slightly brown and caramelized.  Welcome to Flavour Town!

3.)  Add in enough water to completely cover the veggies, plus an extra 2 inches up the pot.  Bring to a boil.  Scoop out squash flesh and add to the pot along with lentils.  Simmer on low, covered,  for at least one hour.

4.)  Remove ginger slices.  Puree (either in batches with a blender or hand blender right in the pot) until smooth.  Stir in coconut 412milk, maple  syrup (if you think it needs a touch more sweetness) and lime juice.  Season with salt and pepper, if necessary.  Voila!

Makes a big batch and easily freezes.

 

 

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