Carnival Squash
I have had squash before, lots of times and varieties. But I don’t think I have ever had a Carnival Squash (Cucurpita pepo), pictured. We got this one from our garden subscription at the refugee center. They simply called it squash. So I went on the web and searched out some information about the squash. Here is what I found and two recipes for a Carnival Squash Soup. I’m making the second soup, Carnival Squash Bisque. Enjoy!

Carnival Squash
(Cucurpita pepo)

Cream colored with orange spots or pale green with dark green spots in vertical stripes. Carnival Squash have hard, thick skins and only the flesh is eaten. It is sometimes labeled as a type of acorn squash.

The delicious yellow meat is reminiscent of sweet potatoes and butternut squash and can be baked or steamed then combined with butter and fresh herbs. Also great in soups.
Available year-round – is best late summer through early fall.
(Source: http://whatscookingamerica.net/squash.htm)

A small to medium sized squash ranging in diameter from 5 to 7 inches. Round and hard skinned, the inner, somewhat stringy flesh has a mellow, but sweet flavor similar to sweet potatoes. This squash can be baked, pureed, or steamed to be served as a side dish seasoned with butter and herbs, or used as a base for soups and stews.

When preparing in an oven, the squash can be cooked whole or cut in half lengthwise from the stem to the bottom. Place the squash with the skin side down in a dish containing 1/2 inch of water. Cover the dish and bake for 1/2 to 3/4 hour at 375 degrees. In a microwave, cook for approximately 20 minutes in a dish with a loose cover of plastic wrap. This squash is available year round, but best during August to October.
(Source: http://www.recipetips.com/glossary-term/t–35476/carnival-squash.asp)

Seasons/Availability
Carnival squash is available October to January.

Description/Taste
The carnival winter squash is a colorful, small, hard-skinned variety. Ranging five to seven inches in diameter, the light yellow, colorful skin is brushed with bright orange and vivid green markings. With a nutty, sweet flavor the carnival squash tastes similar to a butternut squash or a sweet potato.

Nutritional Value
Fat-free and sodium-free, a three-fourths cup serving provides fiber, carbohydrates, protein, vitamin A, vitamin C, calcium, iron and thirty calories. Deep-colored squashes have the most beta carotene.

Applications
Carnival squash are a hard, winter variety that can be difficult to peel. Halve, remove seeds from cavity and roast or bake to cook the flesh. Mash cooked squash with hearty herbs, roasted garlic, brown butter or strong cheese. Braise in stock or cook and puree into soups, add to risotto or stuffed pasta. Bake stuffed halves with meats or grains. Dice and roast squash, then add to wraps, savory crepes or green salads. Hard squash will keep, stored cool and dry, for many weeks.

Geography/History
Of the genus Cucurbita pepo and an acorn-type, this unusual squash is produced on a semi-bushy plant that matures about eighty-five days after planting.
(Source: http://www.specialtyproduce.com/index.php?item=998)

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Winter Squash Soup

Source: http://www.amysfoodroom.com/2008/11/winter-squash-soup.html
Serves: 6

Ingredients:
3 organic Carnival squash
1 yellow onion, diced
1 jalapeno pepper, diced
1 tablespoon unsalted organic butter
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 32oz. box organic chicken broth

Directions:
Garnishes:
toasted pine nuts, sour cream or crème fraiche, fried sage leaves
1. Cook the squash: Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Wash squash and carefully cut a thin slice off the bottom (non-stem end) of each squash. Using a large chef’s knife, cut each squash in half starting from bottom and cutting through stem side. (This is best done by placing the knife in the flesh of the squash then giving a good, firm whack of knife+squash on the cutting board or counter.) Scoop out and discard seeds from each squash half. Place flesh-side down, in an 8×11 inch glass baking dish. Add about an inch of water to the pan, cover with foil and bake 1 hour.

2. Heat butter in large soup pot or dutch oven. Add onions and jalapeno and cook, covered on low heat for 10 – 15 minutes until onions are soft, but not browned.

3. Scoop flesh from cooked squash halves and add to the onions. (Be careful not to scoop any of the tough skin. If you accidentally do, remove it and discard.) Add chicken broth, cumin and salt and simmer gently for 30 minutes then remove pot from heat.

4. Using a hand-held immersion blender, puree the soup. Garnish as you like and enjoy!

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Carnival Squash Bisque

Source: http://www.ablithepalate.com/2005/11/carnival_squash.html

Ingredients:
1 medium onion, chopped
4 lbs Carnival Squash, about 2 medium sized
2 T butter
4 cup vegetable or chicken broth
1 small boiling potato, diced
3/4 cup carrots, diced
1/2 cup celery, diced
1/4 cup whipping cream
1 T thyme

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350°F.
Cut the top off the squash and scoop out the seeds. Drizzle interior with olive oil and season with salt. Roast in the oven until the squash is cooked, about 45 minutes.
Remove from oven and using a spoon, scoop out the soft flesh, being careful to reserve enough on the sides to make the squash “bowl.”

Red Carrot

In a heavy pot, sauté the onions, carrots – I used red carrots as pictured – and celery in the butter until the onions are soft, about 5 minutes. (Mirepoix pictured below) Add the potatoes and broth, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until vegetables are tender, about 15-20 minutes. Stir in the squash and simmer an additional 6 minutes.

Mirepoix

Working in batches, purée the soup in a blender until smooth, adding more broth if the purée is too thick.* Alternatively, you can use an immersion blender (I like my soups a little finer so I also strain the purée, but you can omit this step). Return the purée to a clean pot and simmer over low heat for about 5 minutes. Stir in cream, and adjust seasonings.

Carnival Squash BisqueLadle the soup into the squash shell or a white bowl to show the color and consistency and serve with a crusty baguette. Or, as in this case, with some fresh Banana Bread and Chocolate Banana Bread, courtesy of Robin!!
* I like my soups thick; if you prefer a thinner consistency, add more broth when puréeing.