Pumpkin is sweet. As pie, of course. As muffin and pancake and scone. As — notoriously, perhaps erroneously — latte.
What other vegetable serves as shorthand for “little cutie”?
Making me wonder if pumpkin feels trapped by typecasting. Perhaps pumpkin wants more than to glow in the dark. Perhaps it wants to glower. I vowed to find out; I’d usher pumpkin from sweet to savory, from darling to daring. How tricky could it be? Other squash work the hearty half of the meal.
I tossed together a free-form lasagna, all pumpkin-orange stripes and sage-green flecks, like something out of a home decorating catalog — perhaps a throw pillow — which has the same flavor profile.
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I switched to savory pumpkin pie, rich with cheese and speckled with seeds. It was beautiful, easy to slice and terrible to down. As were its next of kin. Likewise the pumpkin potage and pumpkin popovers.
Somewhere there’s a recipe that celebrates pumpkin’s bold heft and stringy ways, its brilliant color and musty scent without a sugar assist. But I haven’t mastered it. So I’m reverting to an old favorite: butternut squash, which no one uses as shorthand for “sweetie pie.”
Butternut Squash Soup
Makes 6 servings
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
2 onions, chopped
4 fresh sage leaves, slivered
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 (2-pound) butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into 1-inch chunks (about 1 pound prepared)
1 (15-ounce) can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
4 cups chicken broth
Soften: Heat oil and butter in a soup pot set over medium heat. Add onion, sage, bay leaf, salt and pepper. Cook, stirring now and then, until onion starts to color, about 15 minutes.
Simmer: Stir in squash and beans. Pour in broth. Bring to a boil, lower to a simmer and cook, partially covered, until squash turns tender, about 20 minutes.
Swirl: Scoop out 1 cup soup (squash, beans and all); set aside. Toss bay leaf. Use an immersion or standard blender to swirl soup smooth.
Serve: Return reserved 1 cup chunky soup to the smooth soup (providing a little texture). Reheat over low. Serve hot.