Winter harvest

I’m still eating foods I grew over the summer: garlic, kobacha (Japanese winter squash) and pesto (basil). And it all tastes great and makes me keen to start the new growing season. Here’s a winter recipe for what’s left of summer’s bounty.

I have two kobacha (Japanese pumpkins), a winter squash, that I harvested last November. This winter squash needs a minimum of 6 weeks to ripen. The skin dries and the squash changes from a watery, not very exciting, pale yellow to a rich tasting orange, more like butternut. As it ripens and the color changes, the flavors of the squash develops and deepens. It tastes great, perhaps better than butternut. One of the kobacha weighs over six pounds, is gourd shaped with a pale green and white mottled skin.

My favorite thing to do with winter squash is make a soup that my friends first introduced. I cut the squash in half, scoop out the seeds with an ice cream scoop, rub it all down with good olive oil, and place face down on a baking sheet. I then roast it at 450 degrees until it’s soft. Meanwhile, I also roast two onions quartered and 4-6 chicken thighs. (These may take less time depending on the size and thickness of the squash so watch them.) Once everything is out of the oven and cool enough to handle, I scoop the squash from its skin (with the ice cream scoop), chop it all and place it in a soup pot. I usually add chicken stock to make the soup but vegetable stock or water works well too. I add fresh rosemary, salt and pepper to taste. Let it simmer for an hour. Enjoy on a cold winter night with fresh bread.

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