Blue Hubbard Squash
Autumn is a great time of year to enjoy some of the more obscure foods we have on this planet.
After 30 years in the auction business, and after having sold over 200 food-related establishments, I have been introduced to and learned about a wide variety of interesting ingredients and a wide variety of culinary equipment. Over the years, I have also collected a number of cookbooks that were written before refrigeration, and also several books regarding food and it's impact in history. Food and the way we eat has really changed a lot in just the last 100 years.
I had always thought it peculiar that old cookbooks always seemed to have a lot of squash recipes... and then I realized that this is obviously because a squash keeps a long time over the Winter months when stored properly... and it was often the only stored natural food staple a farm family could depend on during late Winter and into Spring.
Hard shell squash is nature's way of providing a food source during those times when the land is frozen and barren. We often forget that mere survival in the Winter was a major concern for most of the people in this United States just a short 100 years ago. This was before we had central heating and gas furnaces and such things as electrical refrigerators... not to mention the convenience of nice warm bathrooms and indoor plumbing.
Having enough fuel and provisions stored to make it through the cold months is what the lives of a farming family revolved around. In our time, we just turn up the thermostat when we feel the slightest chill... and... if we get hungry... we go forage for food at the nearest drive-thru.
Blue Hubbard Squash is often sold in stores in Autumn as an ornamental squash. The ones pictured above are larger than basketballs. All three together weighed 54 lbs. You don't see hubbard squash that often, but hubbard squash also comes in green, orange, and gray and the same shape. Butternut squash is more prevalent in the stores, but the hubbard squash is usually cheaper and provides an interesting culinary opportunity for less money. Hubbard squash also keeps better over the Winter because of its extremely hard shell... so if you and your family want to experience what it was like to eat like a settler on the frozen Prairie 150 years ago... cook up one of these for a culinary adventure when the snows come. I cooked up the last of these three shown in the photo in April of 2009. They store extremely well.
All of the hubbard squashes makes great soup! In my opinion, roasted squash of any kind eaten right from the oven or in squash soup is the best food on the planet.
The hard shell hubbard squashes are... simply... hard. Wash the squash and then split the squash open with a large cleaver and a mallet. Scoop out the seeds and pollen ducts and then split the squash into smaller pieces. No cleaver?... you can also put the squash in a large plastic bag and drop in on the concrete to break the squash into chunks. Put the chunks of squash on large roasting pans... coat with olive oil and salt and pepper and roast in the oven for 45 minutes or so at 400 degrees. Burned, crispy areas on the squash add to the flavor... and it is extremely tasty right from the oven sprinkled with salt and pepper and butter or butter substitute. After roasting, the squash is easy to scoop from the shell to use in soup.
Put the seeds in a bowl of hot water and wash the pollen ducts off and dry the seeds. Put the seeds on a baking sheet with olive oil and salt and pepper and toast them in the oven right along with the squash chunks. Squash seeds are a great crunchy treat.
Those big guys in the photo above each will yield 10 quarts of soup as shown in the pot below. And that is after gobbling up some of the squash right out of the oven.
Here is a good recipe that I have developed. I use this recipe with butternut squashes, hubbard squash, acorn squash, and fairytale squashes. The recipe below is for a 6 quart pot and adapts well to all squash... you will have to use a 10 quart pot with one of those monster hubbard squash and adjust the quantities according.
Squash and Pinto Bean Soup (makes 6 quarts)
(8) medium yellow onions diced into postage stamp sized pieces or a little larger, cook until transparent. (It is okay to use more onions if you are an onion lover like myself.)
(4) tablespoons minced garlic (okay I like lots of garlic and always use more than this in my soups. Kiss me.)
(2) quarts of roasted squash of any kind.
1 pound of dry pinto beans, soaked overnight and simmered until tender... but, not mushy. You want a little "tooth" to the bean. (I hate mushy canned beans.)
(1) 29 ounce can of tomato sauce (yeah I know tomato sauce usually has Italian seasonings... I have heard about this in emails from other visitors to this page... you could use canned tomato puree and add oregano and basil to achieve the same result)
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon (whatever you do, do not go overboard on this)
1-1/2 teaspoons cumin (go overboard on this if you like cumin)
1 tablespoon of smoked paprika (it is okay to go way overboard on this)
1 tablespoon of turmeric. (probably one of the most healthy spices... it is okay to go way overboard on this. However, it does make everything yellow... including teeth.)
Cook the onions till translucent; add garlic and tomato sauce and seasonings; puree about half the squash in a blender and add to the mixture. I usually puree some of the beans, too. If you are making a full pot of 10 quarts of soup... one pound of beans pretty much disappears in the brew, so don't puree the beans... or increase the beans to 1-1/2 pounds and puree some of them in the blender. I like chunks of squash in the finish soup if it is butternut squash, but I usually puree all of the hubbard squash because it is a different texture to begin with. There is no wrong way to make this soup... it will be an adventure if you have never enjoyed squash soup before. Salt and pepper to taste. Oh... I almost forgot... you will probably have to add some water to the brew to get the consistency you prefer. Enjoy!
Okay... here is something else I forgot. I have one of those thin flexible cutting surfaces that I use when I dice squash. I also wear latex gloves when I work with squash. Something about squash is kind of sticky and leaves a film on one's fingers and discolors the cutting board. Okay if you like yellow cutting boards, I guess.
click here to print this recipe as a PDF file
Here are toasted hubbard squash seeds on the left.... toasted butternut squash seeds are shown on the right.