Everyone knows what a pumpkin is, or at least they think they do, but botanically speaking, gourds, squash and pumpkins are all pretty much the same thing.
However, informally, gourds usually refer to the inedible, squash refers to edible, and pumpkin is a fun word someone made up for the round, orange ones.
Generally, there are two types of pumpkins, the smaller sugar pumpkins, and the larger carving pumpkins. Sugar pumpkins are what is used to make pies, soups and desserts, while the carving pumpkins become jack o’ lanterns. Though they appear alike, the differences are there. Sugar pumpkins are smaller, darker, sweeter, with denser flesh, while carving pumpkins are large, stringy inside and would taste bland and bitter.
When it comes to the edible squash, there are many, and it’s too bad that most people only stick to the one or two that they recognize, as there are a lot of interesting textures and flavors to experience. The more well-known varieties include the butternut, spaghetti, acorn and delicata squashes, but there are also ones called hubbard, and blue hubbard, green kabocha and red kuri. And if you want to find something truly cool and unique, there are ones to be had called sweet dumpling, buttercup and banana. If you take a meal made with one of these to your next potluck, you could end up being the cool hipster who knows about all the far-out squash.
Then there are the weirdos. You know when you go the local pumpkin patch and there are all these strange, small, gnarly-looking gourds? The ones with bumps, or weird markings? You know, the freak of nature looking ones that the kids all want because they are the freakiest. Those are not an accident. Farmers and seed companies spend years breeding and crossbreeding those things to see if they can come up with something new that no one’s ever seen before. The market for them is huge, because people like to decorate with them. Isn’t that crazy? And they all have names such as The Warty Goblin or the One Too Many (because it supposedly resembles a blood-shot eye.) I’ve read that the farmers enjoy cultivating these things because their normal crops are supposed to look uniform — and tasty. So, this would be like Dr. Frankenstein’s lab for them. Fun! Anyway, the recipe below, provided by the eternally gracious and beautiful Sarah Bender, calls for butternut squash, and is a perfect meal for chilly fall evenings. If you want to try it with a different kind of edible squash, go for it.
Quinoa Butternut Squash Soup
2 T. Ghee or coconut oil (or other high-quality cooking oil)
1 Small yellow or white onion, fine dice
1 Red bell pepper, fine dice
1 Green pepper, fine dice
1/2 t. Himalayan pink or sea salt
1 T. Curry powder
1/2 t. Ground cumin
Pinch Cayenne powder
4 C. Chicken bone broth or vegetable stock
1 t. Unrefined cane sugar, turbinado, or a couple drops of maple syrup (optional)
3 C. Roasted butternut squash, mashed
2 C. Cooked quinoa
1. In large heavy-duty saucepan or Dutch oven, sauté onion and peppers in hot oil or ghee until onion is translucent, about 5 minutes; add spices and sauté for another minute or so.
2. Slowly add broth/stock, stirring until spices are blended; add sugar or another sweetener; bring to a gentle boil.
3. Carefully whisk in squash. Add quinoa and stir gently until combined; add additional seasonings to taste, if desired.
4. Heat through and serve. You can thicken or thin this soup however you wish by adjusting the broth, squash and quinoa amounts. Enjoy!