AS we're gently eased into the autumnal weather, we're reminded that winter veg season is just around the corner.

It is nearly time for heart-warming soups, casseroles, roasts and falling-temperature-rendering guilt free stodgy meals.

And as October is already upon us, the bells are ringing for all things squash.

Winter squashes - butternuts, pumpkins and more - are coming into season so experiment with these versatile vegetables.

Grown on a vine, butternut squash is in actual fact a fruit although it is enjoyed in savoury dishes.

While pumpkin, another squash cultivar, lends itself to being sweet or savoury.

Although native to North America, some pumpkin seeds - a great snack themselves - found in Mexico dated back as far as 7,000 and 5,500 BC.

And the word itself dates back to the Greek word 'pepon' to mean 'large melon' but arrived at its current name after being adapted by the French, British and then the Americans.

It's with the Americans the pumpkin is probably most associated with.

Just look at their Thanksgiving pumpkin pies and Halloween celebrations.

For the essential ingredients head to Growing with Grace, Clapham, where they have harlequin squashs at £2.99/kilo and butternut squashes at £3.05/kilo.

Why not roast a tray of mixed squashes and enjoy in pasta, risotto or among a buffet or delicious veggie delights?

They also have wonderfully blue skinned crown prince squashes and pumpkins growing which will be available in matter of weeks.

When the pumpkin is ready give the traditional American pumpkin pie a go by boiling and puréeing the vegetable, simply adding a mixture of cream, sugar, nutmeg and cinnamon and pouring on top of homemade or shop bought pastry.

If you've made a risotto or pasta The Courtyard Diary, Settle, has the perfectly crumbly fresh Anster £22/kg or use Old Winchester to replace Parmesan - a British equivalent at £22/kg.

Alternatively enjoy your squashes mashed alongside long and slow roasted ox tail from Watson and Woollard, Kendal, at £6/kilo or lamb shank at £7.99/kilo.

Or use the meats in hearty a hearty casserole or a lamb tagine complete with chickpeas.

Another fantastic way of making the most of squashes is to sue them in a curry.

Kendal Fisheries has monkfish at £21.89/kilo which would be the perfect ingredient in a creamy butternut squash curry with coconut milk and plenty of spices.

And if it's soup that you are after why not make a favourite of mine by roasting a load of sweet potato and butternut squash, whizzing it up and adding to a pan of fried garlic, chilli and ginger and a tin of coconut milk.

For something easy, grab a takeaway soup from Baba Ganoush, Kendal, where they have a range including ribollita, spiced sweet potato and bacon, lentil and vegetable. Prices range between £2.50 and £3.75 depending on size and flavour.

Over at Grange-over-Sands, the Hazelmere Cafe and Bakery also has a selection of freshly made vegetable soups for takeaway for £1.50 or £2 with bread.

And for something sweet afterwards they have a strawberry and oat crumble at £1.20 a slice.

If you've made soup at home, try their garlic and rosemary or olive focaccia starting at £2.