Sunday, April 15, 2012

Butternut Squash Stew

I know it is not autumn yet but I love butternut squash year-round. This recipe is probably my most used and requested of all my soups. I was going to wait to post it until the fall season but I got a request to teach a cooking class yesterday about butternut squash. So...we made this. Everyone loved it. This recipe has an ancestry dating back to one I found in a "Cuisine at Home" magazine. Each year I've used it, a new generation has been born with some new and improved characteristics. I haven't altered it much lately so that means I am really happy with it now.

Butternut Squash is a winter squash so it keeps a long time. It can stay in your cool storage for months without going bad. This is great, because you don't have to fit it in your menu the same week you impulse-bought it at the store or when your neighbor graciously gifts you one from their garden. If you get the choice, try and find a squash that has a long, skinny neck. You actually get more squash-meat (I don't think that is the right term but it is all I can think of right now). The bulby part of the squash is full of strings and seed, kind of like a pumpkin, and a very thin layer of squash so you don't get much from it.

Always use a large, sharp knife when dealing with butternut squash. It is hard and I don't want any injuries. Second, wear disposable gloves when it is raw. Touching the raw flesh will leave a weird film/residue on your hands you will not be able to get off for days, no matter how much you scrub.

There are a few ways to cook butternut squash. I usually just slice it in half lengthwise and bake it in the oven (brushed with a little oil). I know others that do the same thing only cook it in the microwave for about a third of the time. The flavor/consistency will change a bit but not noticeable to everyone. OR, for other recipes I will peel and dice the raw squash (as seen in the picture below) and steam it in a covered skillet with chicken broth for 10-15 min. I hear you can even buy pre-diced chunks at Costco... Really, I think any of these ways would work for this soup.

Last but not least, I think the lime cream really adds something special to the soup, as do the tortilla strip for texture. They aren't just garnishes to make it look pretty. Don't leave them out unless you have to.

Stew Ingredients:
1 butternut squash (2 lbs)

1 cup corn (fresh or frozen)
1 C chopped onion
2 large garlic cloves
1 jalapeno, seeded (this doesn't make it spicy...if you want that, leave in the seeds)
2 TBSP canola oil
3 corn tortillas, cut into strips
2 C chopped Roma tomatoes
2 TBSP tomato paste
1 1/2 TBSP ground cumin
1 tsp chili powder
6 C chicken broth
1 lb. turkey kielbasa sausage
6 oz spinach
1 can (15 oz) white hominy, drained
salt and pepper

Lime Cream
1/2 C sour cream (use lite if you can to cut fat)
1 TBSP lime juice
zest from 1 lime
1 tsp ground cumin

Half the butternut squash, remove strings and seeds, brush with 1 TBSP canola oil and place on baking pan in oven at 350 degrees for ~40 min. Cool until easy to handle. Peel and dice.

While squash bakes, finely chop onion, garlic, jalapeno and corn together.  Add 1 TBSP oil and corn mixture and cook a few minutes until fragrant. Add in cumin, chili powder, tomatoes and tomato paste and cook about 5 minutes, stirring frequently.

Stir in broth and 1/2 of the squash, bring to a boil and simmer for 10 min. Use hand blender in pot to blend until smooth.

Slice sausage and brown it in a skillet until well-cooked through.

Slice the corn tortillas into strips and separate on an ungreased baking sheet, sprinkle with salt. Bake in oven for 8-10 min. or until crisp (watch these closely because they can burn fairly easily)

Stir in remaining squash cubes, sausage, and hominy into stew. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 15 min. Mix ingredients for lime cream in small bowl and set aside.

Stir in spinach into soup 1-2 minutes before serving. Salt and pepper to taste. Garnish with lime cream and crunchy tortilla strips. Makes about 10 cups.


  1. Thanks for the tips on how to pick, store, and cook a squash. I've always been a little intimidated by them:) Oh, and where do you get those "crunchy tortilla strips"? Can you buy them or do you make yours? Sorry, one more question- do I have to use kielbasa sausage? I really don't like it... any suggestions for other meats? Turkey sausage or ground turkey perhaps?

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  3. I'm sure any kind of sausage would work...except those weird breakfast sausage links. You make the crunchy strips from the corn tortillas we sliced and baked in the middle of the recipe directions.

  4. Thanks! Sorry, must've not seen that part about the tortillas... must be my ADHD:) Oh, and I found the labels... thanks!