Mary's Veggie Garden

December 30, 2011

Squash and Tomato Soup

Filed under: Gardening,Squash,Tomatoes,Vegetables — marysveggiegarden @ 10:45 pm

This is a great winter-time soup – especially following a summer when the garden was prolific with both winter squash and tomatoes.

Squash Tomato Soup. I forgot to add the parsley during cooking.

1 tbsp. butter or olive oil
1 cup chopped onion (1 large or 2 medium)
1 cup chopped green or red pepper
1 large sprig parsley
1/4 tsp. dried thyme leaves
1 bay leaf
2 cups tomatoes (1 pound  fresh/ 1 pint canned tomatoes)
4 cups cooked winter squash  (2 pounds)
4 cups chicken or vegetable broth (use juices saved from cooking squash)
1 tsp. salt (or to taste)
freshly ground pepper to taste
2 cups milk

Melt butter or oil in a large (6 qt.) soup pot. Add onion, pepper, parsley, thyme and bay leaf. Cook until onion is translucent. Add tomatoes,  squash and broth. Cover and simmer 30 minutes stirring occasionally.

Find & remove the bay leaf. Puree soup in a blender. Stir in salt, pepper and milk. Serve.

Blender: I use an immersion (‘stick’)  blender because it eliminates the need to move the hot soup to a blender bowl. If you use an immersion blender, use an extra deep pot to prevent the soup from splashing all over the kitchen while blending.

The ratio of squash and tomatoes can be changed according to taste: more tomatoes move the taste closer to tomato soup, more squash makes a mellower soup.

Squash: I’ve used butternut, Tetsukabuto, and most often Rumbo squash because it yields enough squash for 2-3 batches of soup.

That’s the basic recipe. Usually I make it without the milk, and freeze part. Before reheating  I stir in the milk, then microwave.

Add chopped left-over cooked turkey or shelled edamame soy beans to add protein and make a complete lunch.

How I really make this soup: Starting one day in advance, I cook a Rumbo squash from the cellar. On soup day, I grab the onions and home canned tomatoes from my basement root cellar. The chopped peppers and parsley come from the freezer.

December 26, 2011

How to Cook a Rumbo Squash: an illustrated tutorial

Filed under: Gardening,Squash,Vegetables — marysveggiegarden @ 1:32 pm

The thought of cooking a Rumbo squash can be quite scary; frightening enough to send many cooks to the internet. Every few weeks someone arrives at my blog by asking  how to cook a Rumbo squash. Finally I’m answering the question. After all, it is quite daunting to have a 13-18 pound squash sitting on your cutting board.

Store squashes resting on their stems.

For the best flavor and sweetness harvest your Rumbo squashes when the entire skin has turned orange-tan. Leave the stem on the squash. Wash and dry then store in a cool place. The ideal temperature is 55°F. My unheated basement works well.

After harvest store the squash upside down on a shelf, resting on its stem and 1-2  spots of the skin. This position prevents moisture from being trapped under the squash, leading to mold.

Cooking a Rumbo Squash

1) Wash squash. Break off stem.

The challenge: a 14 pound Rumbo squash

2) Cut in half. I like to cut at a deep rib. It’s even better if you can find two deep ribs opposite each other.

Cut in two.

3) Scrape out seeds and stringy fibers with a large spoon.

Rumbo after scraping out seeds and fibers.

4) Save the seeds in a colander, remove the stringy fibers and rinse.

Save the seeds to roast later.

5) Now for the tough part: you need a very large pan to roast this squash. The pan must be sturdy because this squash is heavy. The pan must have sides because this squash releases  lots of juice during cooking. This roasting pan, which came with my gas oven, is 15″x15.5″ and 1.25″ deep.

I wrap the cut edge of the squash with foil. The foil traps juices next to the squash. Without foil the juice spreads into the pan and evaporates away then the sugary residue burns.

Rumbo - ready to pop into the oven.

Alternately – use a smaller roasting pan for each half. With two small pans the squash is easier to lift. I cook smaller – 10 pound – Rumbos cut side up in my covered turkey roaster.

6) Bake at 350° F. for 70-80 minutes. This squash took an hour and 15 minutes.

7) If your oven has a vent, you can dry the seeds under or over the vent while the squash cooks. Use a metal colander, because a plastic colander would melt. Stir the seeds occasionally to prevent them from sticking together and to dry them evenly. Use a pot-holder to handle the colander – it will be burning hot. (Guess how I know.)

Seeds drying under oven vent.

8) The Rumbo is cooked when a fork can be thrust easily through the skin, into the squash. Test at the thickest part of the squash. A lot of liquid in the pan is another sign it’s cooked.

Rumbo after cooking.

9) Remove the pan from the oven with care. It contains 2-4 cups of scalding hot liquid which could inflict severe burns if sloshed over your hands. If the pan will be too heavy to lift, cook each half squash in a separate smaller pan. Alternately – remove the liquid from the pan before lifting the pan. (Step 11)

10) Allow the squash to cool for a bit – at least 10 minutes.

11) Remove the liquid from the pan with a turkey baster, filling a glass jar. After clearing the foil , carefully lift the edge of the squash. There may be lots more juice trapped underneath. I save the juice to use as part of the broth in soup.

Saving the squash juice.

12) Roll over the squash halves and let them cool some more. The cut edges will flop together and trap heat. I cut each half in two, to open it up.

Rolled over, cut in two, and cooling.

13) Using a large spoon, scoop the squash flesh out of the skin from between the ribs.

Removing the squash flesh from the skin.

14) Enjoy. This 14 pound squash yielded 6.5 pounds of squash flesh and 3.5 cups juice.  Substitute Rumbo squash into any recipe calling for pumpkin or other winter squashes. I’ll use it for squash bread and soup and roast the dried seeds. Rumbo is particularly good in soups because it is so juicy. For breads and cakes, I drain away some of the juice before using.

Next post: my favorite squash soup.

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