Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Coconut Curry Cushaw Soup

My in-laws inherited a large squash from their neighbor, an avid gardener, and it was passed onto me.  A bit like a vegetable shuffle this time of year.  One can only handle so much squash or so many tomatoes.  This looker was a bit of a mystery.  Some of us thought it was a squash, and others thought it was closer to a pumpkin.  Weighing in at seven pounds, I was determined not to let it stare at me from my kitchen counter for too long.  It was a bit intimidating.  I'll withhold the frustrating details involved in the peeling process/hack job.  Flash forward twenty minutes later, and the inside revealed a light yellow flesh. I started feeling like one of those contestants on Food Network's Chopped as they look down into their mystery baskets.  Lucky for me, there were no time constraints or glaring judges involved during my investigation.  I did some digging on my computer while I figured out what to do with this guy.

I found this link from Slow Food USA with a description and picture that seemed to match what I was holding in my hand.  Now, correct me if I'm wrong here and I'll happily admit my mistake, but I believe I inherited a green-striped cushaw, also known as a Tennessee Sweet Potato Squash.  Apparently it's a rare heirloom variety of Tennessee, Louisiana, and Mississippi.  Hmm, I live in Massachusetts.  I learned it's not widely available and usually grown in small batches.  Apparently it's related to a pumpkin and can be used in many of the same ways.  I went for savory rather than sweet, choosing to make a fall soup.

Although I haven't tried it, I'm pretty confident this recipe would work just as well with pumpkin or butternut squash.  So don't miss out on this soup if you don't have an enormous cushaw at the ready (and why would you?).  It's pretty straightforward and with very little effort, turned out to be one of my favorites soups to date.  You really can't go wrong.  I've added Thai elements like coconut milk and curry powder, and also roasted the seeds I extracted from the squash to garnish the soup with.  The result was a sweet, warm bowl of goodness with a touch of heat.  Who knew the mystery squash would turn out so well?  While I don't think I'll be the recipient of a cushaw again anytime soon, I'll definitely be making another batch of this soup with butternut squash this season.  In the meantime, I'll be purchasing a new peeler first.

 ~Coconut Curry Cushaw Soup Recipe~

3 lb cushaw squash (or butternut squash/pumpkin), approximately 5 cups
1 large yellow onion, diced
2 tsp curry powder
4 cups good quality rich vegetable stock
1 cup, organic canned coconut milk
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil (for roasting squash)
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil (for soup)
sea salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Cut squash into 1" pieces.  Toss with 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil.  Layer on baking sheet or pan.  Roast the squash for about 35-40 minutes.  

In a large pot, saute onion in extra virgin olive oil over medium heat until it softens, about three minutes.  Add the roasted squash or pumpkin, and curry powder.  Add in vegetable stock and let it work together for about five minutes.  Puree the soup with an immersion blender until smooth (or in batches in a blender).  Pour coconut milk into the soup, stirring to combine.  Add sea salt and pepper to your liking.  Serve in bowls with toasted seeds. Pumpkin seeds also work well and maybe even a sprinkle of nutmeg.  Serves 6.


Anonymous said...

Oh my gosh! What a squash! I'm impressed you got (hacked?) through that thing. :) I like how you used curry in the soup... I want to make a squash soup this season, probably butternut squash soup, and I'm debating whether to make a curried version. Your soup looks great though.

kyleen said...

Your soup is gorgeous; loves perfect for the cooler upcoming months. I love how you topped it with pumpkin seeds.

tori said...

I can't say I've got a giant cushaw on hand (here in London) but there are pumpkins coming in- so this spicing looks like a gorgeous twist on an old faithful (nb, I've found that if I roast the pumpkin in its skin, then just scoop it out when it's cooked and soft it saves me the hassle of having to peel it)

Stephanie said...

Hi Tori-jealous you are in London! Thanks for the tip with the pumpkin. Haven't made one yet this season, but planning on it soon.

Amy E. said...

This soup looks really delicious! What a perfect way to welcome Autumn! Thanks, Stephanie!

Janet Arfin Kingan said...

Just got a cushaw at the Marshfield farmers market from a guy who grows them from heirloom seeds from his family in Kentucky. He gave me his grandmother's pie recipe and it is truly delicious.

Stephanie said...

Hi Janet, lucky you! I'd love to know more about that pie recipe. I've heard pie is what's traditionally made with it. I actually just got another one from a neighbor and it's a monster!

Stephanie from Baton Rouge, La. said...

I actually DO have a huge, beautiful cushaw sitting on my dining table! There was a large bin of them at the farmers market and I bought one, not having any idea what I would do with it once I got it home, but they were so huge and beautiful (mine is half green striped, half orange striped) I knew I wanted one. (I live in Louisiana and apparently these are common here, but somehow I had never seen or heard of this squash!)
Looking for a good recipe all I could find were sweet pies or dessert breads. I wanted savory...then I found your recipe! Yea!! Thank you so much! I am making this for dinner tonight. It looks fantastic. Curry with coconut milk? I can't wait!

Stephanie said...

Hey Stephanie! Thanks for writing. That's amazing! I had no idea what a cushaw was when I got it. It's not something you see around here. They are huge and beautiful, aren't they? I've heard they're big in Louisiana. Same for me. I found lots of pie recipes but knew I wanted something different so I came up with this soup! Hope you like it. Good luck! :)

Stephanie from Baton Rouge said...

This recipe was fantastic! Thank you so much!! Yes, that big ol squash was a pain in the butt to peel and cut up, but what an amazing taste! My daughter and I were ready to eat it straight out of the oven!
I will definitely make this again. The only thing I added was a sprinkle of cayenne......hey, I'm from Louisiana....it's really hard for us not to jazz things up with a little cayenne! (last weekend I made dark chocolate/cayenne pepper cookies....amazing!). Thanks again....Do you have any more recipes out there? If so, I would love to find them!!!!!

Stephanie said...

Hi Stephanie! I'm so glad you enjoyed it! The squash is very sweet tasting, isn't it? haha good move with the cayenne. I'm a little heat sensitive myself but I'm gradually working on it. Those cookies sound amazing. I'm actually working on a black pepper cookie that I'll post next. I think you'd really like that one. Just click on the recipe index, near the header, and you'll see everything categorized there! Let me know if you have trouble finding it. Thanks for sharing your cushaw success! :)

Stephanie from Bayon Rouge said...

How did I miss the recipe index? I was so focused on the recipe itself, I totally missed that!
What a great site you have. I can't wait until I have time to sit and really look at everything. Your recipes look amazing!

Yes, the interesting thing about the chocolate, cayenne cookies were they seemed like a plain, but very good chocolate cookie on first taste, with the heat slowly making itself known. Not overwhelming at all.

Can't wait for you to post the black pepper cookie recipe...wow, that sounds so good!!!

Happy cooking! So glad I discovered you! :)

Stephanie said...

No worries :) Glad you found it. Thanks! I'll put up the cookie recipe soon. I think you'll love them! Glad you found me too!