A Healthier Holiday Table: A Hearty Pumpkin / Squash Stew

As part of the American Cancer Society’s Healthier Holiday Table campaign, I am re-publishing my Cuban Pumpkin (or Butternut Squash) Stew that so many of you have made and love. Thank you — it always tickles me when I see it mentioned here or on Facebook!

First, some cancer-prevention tips courtesy of ACS:

· Choose whole grains instead of refined grain products. Here are some innovative ways to add more vegetables, fruits, and whole grains to your day while watching your refined carbohydrates, sugar, and fat intake.
· Limit how much processed meat and red meat you eat. Some studies have linked eating large amounts of processed meat to increased risk of colorectal and stomach cancers.
· Drink no more than 1 drink per day for women or 2 per day for men. Alcohol raises the risk of cancers of the mouth, pharynx (throat), larynx (voice box), esophagus, liver, breast, and the colon and rectum.
· The Society recommends that adults get at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity or 75 minutes of vigorous intensity activity each week (or a combination of these), preferably spread throughout the week. Here are some tips to help you fit exercise into your busy schedule.

As for my own household, we are definitely getting our fair share of exercise as well as fruits and veggies as both DH and DS are vegetarians. My kids, like all kids, will grab the grilled cheese sandwiches before loading up their plates with salad, but I make it a point to pack fruit for snacks and lunches and hide veggies in meals whether pasta sauces, pizza or stews. The following Pumpkin or Butternut Squash stew is a favorite fall and winter dish in our household. We usually eat it with tortilla chips or rice — in which I hide veggies there as well.


Photo from Vegan Treats and Eats blog.

Cuban Squash Stew
(2) 15oz cans of white kidney or cannellini beans
(1) butternut squash or pumpkin (the smallest you can find)
1 3/4 teaspoon of salt

sofrito sauce
5 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, peeled and finely chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 poblano pepper, finely chopped
1/4 cup of chopped cilantro (tightly packed)
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1 cup or half a can of tomato sauce
6 manzanilla olives (This is optional. Put in as many or as little as you’d like. We love olives so I always put in a minimum of 6.)

Directions: Boil butternut squash to soften, peel, de-seed, and dice into 3/4-inch dice. You will make approximately 2 cups.

Boil the squash in 5 cups of water. Add beans from the can.

While the beans are cooking, prepare the sofrito, which by the way, I use as my base sauce for everything from beans to lasagna. Put the oil in a large frying and set it on medium-high heat. Put in the onion and garlic and stir and fry for a minute. Now put in the poblano pepper and cilantro, turn the heat down to medium and stir for a minute. Put in the cumin and stir once, then add the tomato sauce and bring to a simmer. Turn the heat to low and simmer very gently, stirring now and then, for 10 minutes.

Add the salt and the sofrito to the pot. Stir and bring to a simmer until all the flavors are blended. Enjoy!

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About Elisa

I am a journalist and online organizer who is the co-publisher of this blog. When I am not online, I am shuttling around my two kids, an 8-year-old son and 5-year-old daughter.

17 thoughts on “A Healthier Holiday Table: A Hearty Pumpkin / Squash Stew

    • I should add that it’s pretty straightforward to make. I didn’t have chiles on hand so I just added a bit of chipotle powder. It would be good without chiles, too. The basic idea of the pumpkin plus the canned beans is excellent.

      To make it even faster, you can buy a bag of frozen, cubed squash. It would come together with almost no prep.

      • One more thing: If you want it to be more like a side dish and less soup-like, and you’re not adding rice, you can also just use less water. It’s a very nifty master recipe. :-)

          • Penzey’s chipotle powder is Teh Awesome.

            A friend of mine turned me on to them many many years ago, when their only store was in the midwest and the only option was mail order. Now, they have many more stores, and you can walk in and smell every herb and spice they sell (they have little sample tins out of each one). It’s a fun place to go.

            The catalog is very fun too, because every spice is lovingly described with how it is produced and where it comes from. In many instances, you can choose between various origins of the same spice, and they’ll describe the difference.

            Unfortunately the closest store to you is in Santa Rosa which is actually closer to me. I’d be happy to bring some to you next time I come down…

  1. I have two gallon-size freezer bags of pureed pumpkin (used to be jack-o-lantern). Does anyone have a recipe they love for this? I know pumpkin bread, and can make a sorta squash/pumpkin soup, but would love something more interesting. I wonder if I can do a variation of THIS soup, with puree and black beans???

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