By Howard Lee Puckett
Most any winter squash can be used, including butternut, buttercup, banana, hubbard or sweet meat. And if you’re in a pinch for time, you can substitute with two 12-ounce packages of frozen cooked squash.
• One 3½- to 4-pound winter squash
• 2 tablespoons butter
• 1 medium onion, chopped
• 1 large apple, peeled, cored and chopped
• 3 cups chicken broth
• 1 tablespoon honey
• 1 teaspoon dried marjoram
• 1/4 teaspoon white pepper
• Salt (optional)
• 1/2 cup half-and-half
• Toasted pumpkin seeds*, fresh marjoram sprigs and freshly ground pepper, for garnish
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cut squash in half; remove seeds. Place squash cut side down on a lightly greased aluminum foil-lined baking sheet. Bake 45 minutes or until squash pulp is tender. Remove from oven. Cool 20 minutes. Scoop out squash pulp, discarding shells. Measure 23/4 cups squash pulp; set aside.
2. Melt butter in a large Dutch oven over medium heat. Add onion and apple; sauté 5 to 7 minutes or until tender. Add broth, honey, marjoram and white pepper; bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer, covered, for 20 minutes. Stir in squash pulp.
3. Process squash mixture in batches in a blender or food processor until smooth, stopping to scrape down sides. (An immersion blender may be used for this step.) Return mixture to Dutch oven. Add salt, if desired. Whisk in half-and-half and cook over medium-low heat, 3 to 4 minutes or until thoroughly heated. Garnish with pumpkin seeds, marjoram and freshly ground pepper.
* Note: To toast pumpkin seeds, place a small nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until hot; add raw pumpkin seeds and cook, stirring constantly, over medium-low heat for 3 to 5 minutes or until seeds are toasted. Toasted pumpkin seeds, called pepitas, are available in many supermarkets.
Frequent contributor Kris Wetherbee writes and gardens in the hills of western Oregon.
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