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
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.