The garden team has been busy this past week harvesting a lot of winter squash, carefully laying them out in the polytunnels at Avalon Farm. Here they will cure for around three weeks, allowing the skins to harden in order to preserve the inner flesh. They can then be stored away for the colder months; trusty staples our chefs can rely upon.

Squash and gourds are all members of the Cucurbitaceae family – a plant group that comes in a variety of forms (around 975, according to Encyclopedia Britannica). While gourds are largely cultivated for ornamental use, squash are grown to be harvested and devoured. Summer squash have soft skin and tender flesh, but winter squash have thicker skin and denser flesh, making them a hardy standby to keep on your kitchen table all season. Ready for stewing, roasting, mashing, baking, simmering.

Did you know that pumpkins are actually a type of squash. Other varieties include: Acorn, Kuri, Onion, Butternut, Kabocha and Crown Prince.

Rich, sweet and slightly nutty, these rotund bundles of goodness all provide important nutritional benefits for this time of year. Carotenoid pigments that deliver the vibrant orange colour also deliver powerful antioxidants that help us fight disease – in particular beta-carotene, which our body turns into immune-boosting vitamin A. Squash also contains high amounts of fibre, folate, calcium and vitamin C.

We’re squeezing plenty of squash onto our menus and into our Mobile Newt products – from roasted squash with ewes’ cheese, to Crown Prince Squash & Chilli Soup that you can heat up at home. Or try making our chef’s soup recipe – with a piney, peppery kick from winter savory.

Kuri Squash Soup 

(Serves 4)

A rather gourd soup by Ben Champkin, Head Chef of The Botanical Rooms.

  • 1kg Kuri or Onion Squash
  • 25g winter savory
  • 200ml Babylonstoren olive oil
  • Dorset sea salt & cracked black pepper

First, peel the squash, cut in halve and remove the seeds 

Cut into chunks and add to a juicer

Add the juice and winter savory leaves to a medium-sized pan and slowly bring to a simmer, whisking continuously

The juice will begin to thicken from the natural starch 

Blend well and slowly add the olive oil 

Season to taste and serve hot – with a slice of crusty apple sourdough spread unsparingly with butter.