October is the time of the year when children go on hay rides with their school classes or families to pumpkin patches. If they are lucky, they might also discover a squash patch! Either way, a bumpy ride on the back of a tractor pulling a wagon filled with wooded benches will bring them to a field of colourful pumpkins and squash.
First, let us talk about squash. Many varieties of squash are grown. They come in all kinds of shapes and sizes. For the chef, it is important to distinguish between summer and winter squash. Summer squash have soft, edible skins.You can actually eat the entire squash, skin, flesh, and seeds. I enjoy taking the seeds out of the squash, rinsing them with water, then spreading them on a greased baking sheet and sprinkle salt over them and put them in an over at 350 F for about twenty minutes, continuously turning them over.
Zucchini are an example of a summer squash. You can even eat their delicate blossoms. They are often stuffed, baked, then eaten. Sometimes you might see miniature baby squash in grocery stores. Again, mini zucchini are often sold.
Winter squash are those squash that consist of a hard skin, often that are not eaten because they are too hard. Pumpkins are a good example of a winter squash. Butternut and acorn are squash that are popular to eat. I enjoy cutting an acorn squash in half, placing it on a greased baking dish, then after removing the seeds, season with salt, freshly ground pepper, and hot paprika, butter, and brown sugar. Bake at 350 F for about thirty minutes or until soft when pierced with a fork.
Secondly, pumpkins are a familiar treat to enjoy this time of the year. Fields of not only orange, but beige, and cream pumpkins can be found in rural areas. An easy way to enjoy pumpkins is to roast the flesh, then puree the cooked flesh, and use it to make a delicious spicy pumpkin and cumin soup. In a large saucepan, cook over a low heat chopped up onions and garlic. Once brown, add 4 cups of vegetable or chicken broth a bring to a boil. Once boiling, turn it down to simmer and add your pureed pumpkin. Add the juice of two limes, fresh coriander (cilantro) leaves chopped, and 1 red chili, seeded and chopped. Take your cooled soup and add 1 cup of heavy cream. Mix well.
To serve, sprinkle fresh chopped coriander leaves on top of each bowl. Add a fresh-cut piece of lime on the side of each plate. Hopefully you will be excited to try this wonderfully delicious and colourful soup!
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