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Winter Squash Chowder

This soup is very hearty and versatile. You can add any vegetable you may have on hand, add or change the seasonings or herbs, substitute cooked chicken for the ham, or add cooked beans for a vegetarian version. This recipe serves 6 to 8 people and requires quite a bit of squash so a large squash or couple smaller ones will be needed or you can cut the ingredients in half to make less. You can use any type of winter squash or pie pumpkin.  

2 tablespoons of vegetable oil

1 ½ cup of diced onion

7- 8 cups of cubed winter squash

1/2 to 3/4 pound of cubed ham or smoked sausage

4 cups of water or chicken broth

1 bay leaf

½ cup water

1 cup diced carrots

1 cup diced celery

1 cup lima beans

1 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese

½ cup heavy cream

Salt and pepper

In a medium sized soup pot, heat the oil and sauté the onion until limp. Add the squash, 4 cups of water or broth, and bay leaf. Simmer until the squash is tender, about 20 minutes. Remove the bay leaf and process in a food processor until smooth.

In a separate pot, simmer the ham, carrots, celery, and beans in the remaining ½ cup of water until the vegetables are tender. Add the vegetables, ham, the cheese, and the cream to the squash and heat gently. Season to taste with salt and pepper and serve.