“What do you think?” Charles Leggett asked his wife Dorothy as she pondered her first bite of the bright orange vegetable steaming on her plate. She looked up at the ceiling as she swirled the creamy texture around in her mouth.
“It’s good,” she said nodding with a pleased smile spreading over her face. “I think this cross between the gooseneck and hubbard squashes really worked. All those years of experimenting is finally paying off.”
Charles and Dorothy had moved out to Stow, MA, in the 1930s looking for fresh air and the country life. Charles sold insurance in Boston about 20 miles away, but he just couldn’t let 94 acres go to waste. So he tried planting corn and other crops until he turned his attention to propagating squash. Finally in 1944, he struck gold.
“Why thank you dear,” Charles said with a smile. He took another bite, slowly savoring the flavor. “Mmmm. This is smooth as butter and sweet as a nut.”
Soon, Charles was showing his horticultural triumph to Robert E. Young, a professor at the Waltham Field Station of the University of Massachusetts School of Agriculture. He agreed there was a lot to admire about this squash. With its thin skin and small seed compartment, it boasted a lot of edible area. It wasn’t long before this delicious squash was on tables all over the country, bearing the name Charles gave it.
It’s delicious baked or roasted. But I especially like to make a creamy soup with the butternut squash I get at my favorite local farm stand, Swistak’s in Rome, NY. Here’s my recipe. If you try it, come back and let me know in the comments how you liked it.
Butternut Squash Soup with Fresh Ginger and Cider
One large butternut squash (7 pounds or so)
2 small onions
2 small apples
2 tablespoons fresh grated ginger
1 teaspoon powdered cinnamon
¼ teaspoon allspice
3 tablespoons brown sugar
4 cups vegetable broth
½ cup cider
Salt and pepper to taste
Peel the squash with a potato peeler. Scrape out the seeds and cut it into pieces. Put the pieces into 6-quart crockpot. (If you have a smaller crockpot, opt for a smaller squash.)
Peel the apples with the potato peeler. Cut them into pieces. Discard the cores. Add them to crockpot.
Remove outer layers of onions. Cut them into pieces and add them to the crockpot.
Sprinkle the spices, salt, and brown sugar over the vegetables.
Pour the cider and vegetable broth over the spices, rinsing them in.
Cook on low for 6-8 hours.
Blend all the ingredients with a stick blender until smooth. Be careful not to splash the soup. It will be very hot!
Serve with a sprinkle of nutmeg if you wish.
This recipe makes about 15 cups of soup. I like to freeze leftovers in 3-cup plastic containers and enjoy an easy bowl of soup later in the winter by dropping one of the frozen “bricks” of soup into a saucepan covered with a lid and heating it.