Soup doesn’t have to be reserved for the fall and winter season. It’s delicate goodness or rich and robustness can be enjoyed any time of the year. In my opinion, there’s something about having a warm bowl of soup on a cool and overcast day, while cozied up at home that rejuvenates my soul. It doesn’t take much to make me happy, so I try to keep the little things that are staples readily available in the kitchen pantry.
I remember the first time I experienced the warm and rich flavor of Butternut Squash soup. I had ventured into a new restaurant in my quest to eat local. The hostess sat me at a table near the fireplace and told me all about the restaurant’s most popular dishes. I chose to start with a fan favorite which was a large bowl of Butternut Squash soup. After the first creamy spoonful I recall the “OMG” moment and wandered how I had gone nearly a lifetime before being introduced to this magnificent root vegetable. I remember being immediately smitten and determined to figure out how I could recreate a similar and equally palate pleasing flavor at home. I volunteered for the challenge. I am happy to share I’m pleasantly surprised by the results.
The restaurant listed the dish as a healthy vegan and gluten free option. I wanted to be certain to hold true to this as without compromising the soulful flavor. I savored every bite while taking mental notes of the ingredients in which I felt the dish consisted of. For three months I tinkered around in the kitchen concocting varying versions consisting of fancy ingredients as well as the humblest. I finally settled on the right mix of warm and hearty ingredients that made my palette sing. Sometimes the humble approach always wins, and that is the case for this soup. This dish consists mostly of items already found in mostly every home cook’s kitchen. If anyone reading can relate, I’m usually pressed for time therefore I can appreciate a recipe that isn’t labor intensive.
I think what I appreciate the most is this soup’s versatility. I have made this dish in a pinch when I forgot I was responsible for the office snack day. I didn’t want to be that person that had delightfully devoured the assortment of snacks everyone else had brought in for their day then somehow on my day I forgot! That would cause mutiny out on the floor. Well really it wouldn’t because the colleagues would understand but it would cause mutiny silently in my head. Like how could I forget? I also have made this soup for family gatherings. This soup adds to the variety of vegan options and it’s enjoyed by our oldest family member, down to the youngest whose testing out baby food, minus any nuts and garnish of course.
1 ½ lb. Butternut Squash
2-3 Crushed garlic cloves
1 Small sweet potato
2 Tablespoons of olive oil
3 cups of vegetable broth
½ teaspoon of allspice
½ teaspoon of nutmeg
½ teaspoon of salt
¼ teaspoon of pepper
1/8 teaspoon of ginger
1 small piece of fresh ginger root
1/8 teaspoon of cardamom (may substitute with mixture of cinnamon & nutmeg)
1 teaspoon up to 1 tablespoon of maple syrup
Preheat oven to 400 degrees
Wash squash and sweet potato and dry thoroughly. Poke holes into both with a knife then place on a cookie sheet.
Roast for 30 minutes. When squash is cool enough to handle, cut open, remove and discard seeds, peel flesh, and cut into small cubes.
Peel the sweet potato and cut into small cubes.
Add oil to a large Teflon free saucepan. Add the garlic, squash, sweet potato, broth, maple syrup, ginger root, and all of the spices.
Bring this mixture to a boil then reduce heat to low and simmer for 30 minutes or until all ingredients are soft and fork tender.
Turn off heat and allow the soup to cool.
Pour soup into a blender and blend on high speed until completely smooth. Baby food is the texture you’re going for.
You may pour soup back into the saucepan to warm for serving.
Ladle one cup of soup into bowls. Add walnuts, herbs and craisins for garnish.