Green things that may be eaten raw. (Or made into soup.)

squash (n.)
“gourd fruit,” 1640s, shortened borrowing from Narraganset (Algonquian) askutasquash, literally “the green things that may be eaten raw,” from askut “green, raw” + asquash “eaten,” in which the –ash is a plural affix.

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I discovered the wonderful world of squash just a few years ago. Before that, the only contact I’d had with them was as pumpkins that we hollowed out and carved at Halloween (that was the extent of our Halloween celebrations.) But I never connected the giant round orange thing with triangle-eyes and an orthodontist’s nightmare grin with a vegetable that I could eat. As I grew older, I became aware of Americans talking about “pumpkin pie” and dismissed it further as a Transatlanticism, of the same calibre as small children going from door-to-door dressed in old sheets, or mass-produced witches costumes (or mental patient costumes, complete with tasteful plastic meat-cleaver,) asking for sweets.
This was my only association with pumpkins, and by extension, the entire squash family.

But oh, have I been enlightened?

I don’t know what it was that did it. I don’t remember a Damascene moment, a ray of sunlight illuminating a humble squash plant, or even a particularly good recipe that brought me round (although I suspect it may have had something to do with one of my two best friends that I was at college with ((one of whom may be found here, with the aid of Google translate,)) who unintentionally made me into the vegetable-lover that I am now.) All I know is that at some point I realised that I had realised that squashes were a valuable addition to my culinary repertoire. And they look so wonderful too, so perfectly… autumnal.

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So, innocently driving through the Swiss early-autumn countryside at the weekend, we passed a stall with an impressive array of different kinds of squash. Following my wistful gaze, The Boy assured me that we would pass another before too long, and sure enough, within ten minutes, another display of squash arranged on wooden crates swept into view. This time I was allowed to get out, armed with my camera and purse. And after not-too-long I was back in my seat with an armful of purchases, some of an edible variety, some just too small and pretty to be left behind.

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But I digress. I could go on all evening (and so far, I have) about how wonderful this vegetable looks. But what is really worth having about it is inside. So, nice and simple, and the best comfort food for an autumn evening. Soup

Easy Butternut Squash Soup

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Oh, that colour! I can’t get over that colour!

Adapted from the recipe here.

2-3 servings, depending on how hungry you are.

Butter, to fry
1 small onion
1 clove garlic
1 butternut squash (weight about 1 1/3lb)
1 1/2 pint chicken stock
Nutmeg, salt, pepper
Crème fraîche (or sour cream, or natural yoghurt)

Chop the onion. Crush the garlic with with the flat of a large knife and chop. Fry both in the butter until translucent.
De-seed and chop the squash into 1″ or smaller pieces and add to the pan. (Don’t throw the seeds away*.) Sauté for a few minutes, then add the stock and leave to simmer for 20 minutes or so, until the squash is cooked.
Lift out the pieces of squash and blend in a bowl with a little of the liquid until smooth. Then return to the soup. Bring back up to temperature and season with nutmeg, salt and pepper.
I added the crème fraîche to the soup after serving, because I will reheat the soup tomorrow (and possible the next day as well.)
Serve with a nice thick slice of bread to dip, for the extra-comfort-food factor (yes Daddy, my table manners may slip a little when I’m not under your watchful eye…)
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* The seeds: I absolutely hate to waste any part of a vegetable that still contains goodness. This leads to Goosnargh, and High Offley (see below.)
So I cleaned the seeds, and intend to toast them at a later date.
Here is a gratuitous picture of the seeds sitting in water. Isn’t it pretty, how they all sit on the bottom of the bowl, pointing upwards. I can only assume that the heaviest part of the seed is at the bottom. But this will remain an assumption, as I can’t think of a way of measuring the weight distribution in a squash seed.

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And here is a little wisdom from those two wise sages, Douglas Adams and John Lloyd, from The Deeper Meaning of Liff.

Goosnargh (n.)
Something left over from preparing or eating a meal, which you store in the fridge despite the fact that you know full well that you will never use it.

This tendency seems to be passed down from mother to elder daughter (at least in my family.) As is the following:

High Offley (n.)
Goosnargh, three weeks later.

And just one more little piece of silliness for the night. Spot the link to this post.

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2 thoughts on “Green things that may be eaten raw. (Or made into soup.)

  1. Vegetable lover, heh ;)
    We had some butternut squash in our veggie basket this week, I’m seriously considering a squash and blue cheese gratin at some point this week…
    When I was young my mom used to make use wash all sort of seeds, then put thread through them, and tadam ! Pretty necklaces ! (or smelly necklaces if we hadn’t washed them well enough… )
    Autumn is so great <3

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