I have just cut into the very last of my winter squashes. I much prefer these densely fleshed globes to pumpkin that can be watery and fibrous. I grow three varieties including two which can store as late as March if they’re cured and stored carefully. Mine don’t last that long because I love their comforting flavour so much.
Crown Prince (above) has blue/grey skin and firm, deep orange flesh that melts down into a thick puree for soups, curries and risotto. It’s from a group of squashes known as iron bark and its skin does get incredibly hard, so be careful when you cut into it.
Golden Hubbard has a softer, slightly sweeter flesh that keeps its shape a bit better. Its fruits grow up to three kilos in weight and are shaped like giant lemons.
Gem squash has dark green skin and pale orange flesh. Its round shape and cricket ball-ish size make it perfect for stuffing and baking. I ate it first in South Africa where they wrap it in tin foil and cook it among the coals on a barbecue, or braai as it’s known over there. You can do this in the oven as well, but make sure you pierce the skin first or it will explode. Cut it open, remove the seeds and eat the flesh with a spoon and plenty of butter and black pepper. Being smaller, gem squash doesn’t store as well as the bigger, knobblier types so rarely makes it beyond Christmas.
There are many good things to do with squash and they are a lovely thing to eat in winter, their golden flesh producing meals that are a delight to the eye as well as the palate. However, on a cold, dark night I like nothing better than a simple soup. The amounts are a bit vague as it’s down to personal taste - for a big pot for two hungry people and bit left over for lunch the next day I might use two leeks and up to a kilo/2 lbs of squash. My nephew loved this when he was a baby.
Winter squash soup
In a heavy pot over a gentle heat, melt a good knob of butter and a slug of olive oil, then add the leeks. Stir and cook until soft, being careful not to let them burn. Add the squash and a couple of bay leaves, fresh if you have them, and stir well. Add a mix of half milk, half stock until the vegetables are well covered. Bring to the boil, then cover and simmer until the squash is completely soft. Allow to cool slightly, fish out the bay leaf and puree until smooth, adding a little more milk and/or stock if it’s too thick. Put back in the pan and heat through, seasoning with salt and black pepper. You can add a swirl of cream or creme fraiche to serve and eat with lots of crusty bread.View post...