During the cold months (and here in Chicago, that sadly still includes April), everyone is all about the pumpkin and butternut squash. While those are great, I really get excited about Delicata squash!
Delicata squash are small, with a very creamy texture, mild sweetness, and my favorite part… the skin is pretty AND edible! It has a beautiful pale yellow color with stripes that are often orange with a little green. Once I came across it, it replaced butternut squash for my Thanksgiving side dishes.
It made an appearance in my Chef’s Dinner I hosted this past holiday season. I even tried growing it a few years ago (keyword, tried).
Delicata Squash and Chestnut Stuffing with Shaved Brussels Sprouts Salata from my A Very Vegan Holiday Chef's Dinner
Recently, I saw a huge case of Delicata squash in our kitchen at The Chopping Block. I was surprised because we never see them this time of year, but with the extended cold weather we’ve been having here in Chicago, maybe I shouldn’t have been that surprised. Our kitchen supervisor encouraged us to use them, so that week, I made two appetizers for students in our cooking classes. One was a stuffed Delicata squash with Wild Rice, Apples, and Raisins. The other one, which was my absolute favorite, was a Chipotle Delicata Squash Soup.
I personally feel that squash with sage has been overdone. I love squash with spicy flavors, such as curry and chipotle peppers. During our Bloody Mary Brunch demonstration class, I served this soup with some delicious spiced pepitas for crunch, a healthier alternative to croutons. This squash is so creamy, you don’t need to add any cream!
Chipotle Delicata Soup
4 delicata squash, halved lengthwise
4 tbsp olive oil, divided
2 onions, medium dice
3 cloves garlic, minced
2-3 chipotle peppers, rough chopped (depending on how spicy you like it)
4-6 cups vegetable stock
Maple syrup, to taste
Lime juice, to taste
Salt & pepper, to taste
Cilantro, rough chopped, for garnish
For the spiced pepitas:
1 cup raw pepitas (shelled pumpkin seeds)
1-2 tbsp grapeseed oil
1 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp ancho or chipotle chili powder
¾ tsp cinnamon
Salt, to taste
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
2. Drizzle the Delicata squash with 2 tbsp olive oil, and sprinkle on salt and pepper. Place on a parchment lined sheet tray, cut side down. Place in the oven until the squash is soft, about 40-45 minutes. Remove from the oven, and when cool enough to handle, scoop and discard the seeds. Remove the flesh from the skin and set aside (as delicious as the skins are, they don’t purée well for soup). Keep the oven on for your pepitas.
3. In a soup pot or Dutch oven over medium heat, add the remaining oil. Add onions and sauté until softened, stirring occasionally, about 5-7 minutes. Add garlic and chipotles, and sauté until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add in 4 cups of stock and Delicata squash, and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce to a low heat simmer, and simmer until the flavors meld, about 15-20 minutes.
4. Transfer to a blender or use an immersion blender, and purée the soup until smooth. If needed, add the additional stock. Add maple syrup, lime juice, salt and pepper.
5. To make the pepitas, toss the pepitas, oil and spices together until combined. Place on a sheet tray, and roast until fragrant, about 10 minutes.
6. Serve warm soup in bowls and top with spiced pepitas and cilantro.
You can absolutely use other squash for this soup, such as butternut, kabocha, even pumpkin. Not feeling the chipotles? Try substituting jalapeños or Serrano peppers, and adding some other spices like cumin or chili powder. But since Delicata squash seems to be having an extended stay, take advantage of it now!
Want more delicious recipes that just happen to be vegan as well? Join us for Vegan Voyage: Italian Trattoria at the Merchandise Mart this Sunday, April 8th at 11am. Chef Pete Fernandez and I will teach you how to make:
- Arugula Salad with Pine Nuts and Blood Orange-Balsamic Vinaigrette
- Eggplant Involtini (Breaded Eggplant Roll-Ups, Stuffed with Herbs and Almond "Ricotta")
- Orecchiette with Rapini and Roasted Garlic Cream Sauce
- Chocolate Panna Cotta with Macerated Berries