I bought the Honeynut squash trio pictured above at the Union Square Greenmarket last week mostly because they are adorable baby squash nuggets and they were calling to me from behind all those other nubbly, barnacled behemoths that are so big and heavy you need power tools to crack em…not to mention needing a chiropractor after schlepping them home on the subway.
Anyway, later that day my Mom and I were watching the third episode of Chef’s Table about Dan Barber of Blue Hill at Stone Barns and he started talking about Honeynut squash!! Freakaaay.
What I learned is that the honeynut comes from years of collaboration between a Cornell scientist (a plant breeding geneticist to be exact), Hudson Valley farmers and Chef Barber. Not only is it much smaller than its fellow squashes, it is sweeter, has more nutritional value (particularly beta carotene), and it is more disease resistant. Oh and it was made the old fashioned way, no frankensquashes here. I think that’s pretty neat.
The recipe began based on one from Yotam Ottolenghi’s cookbook Jerusalem. It was meant to be roasted butternut squash but because the honeynut is slightly starchier it needs a higher cooking temp to get some char (probably should have looked that up before they went in the oven). So, when mine came out looking rather sad and pale, I destroyed the evidence in the blender. Voilà! A tasty soup was born.
It’s always good to remember that, in the kitchen, nothing is a mistake unless you label it as such – after all Julia Child always said that if you are alone in the kitchen who will know!?
- 2 tbl olive oil
- 4 shallots, diced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 tbl tomato paste
- ½ cup white wine
- 3-4 lbs honeynut or butternut squash, peeled and cubed*
- 1 tbl za'atar (plus more for dusting)
- ½ tsp cayenne (optional)
- 3-4 cups stock or water
- lots of salt and pepper
- 1 cup plain greek yogurt
- 2 tbl tahini paste
- juice of 1 lemon
- 2-4 tbl water
- salt and pepper
- flat leaf parsley, finely chopped for garnish (optional)
- In a large soup pot, heat the olive oil and sauté the shallots, stirring occasionally until they start to release their liquid and become translucent. Stir in the garlic, za'atar, and cayene (if using) and let cook about 1 minute while you stand guard making sure the garlic does not burn. Season generously with salt and pepper.
- Stir in the tomato paste and again let this go about 1 minute, allowing the sugars to caramelize slightly. Pour the white wine in a steady stream around the pan, scraping up any bits on the bottom as you go.
- Add the squash to the pot and give it all a toss before adding 1-2 cups of your liquid. Reduce the heat and simmer for 20-25 minutes, until the squash is cooked through.
- Puree the soup in a food processor or with an immersion blender, adding the remaining liquid slowly, just until you reach your preferred thickness (my measurement here was an approximation as everyone has different tastes so use as little or as much as you would like!).
- Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Serve immediately, refrigerate up to 5-6 days or freeze up to 6 months (i have eaten soup far older but this is technically frowned upon...what doesn't kill you makes you stronger).
- Whisk all of the ingredients together, adding more liquid if needed to get something the consistency of honey. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Serve soup with a generous drizzle of tahini yogurt, a sprinkling or za'atar and a touch of parsley.