butternut squash soup

It’s late summer and the butternut squash are in a familiar place – piled up in a box in the utility room waiting to be turned into my favorite fall recipes — like this one. I’m eyeing the forecast waiting for the first hint of fall in the air. When it arrives (soon I hope!) I will be bring the golden relaxed vibes to the dinner table with ginger butternut squash soup.

This is an elegant soup with a lovely texture, but don’t be fooled, it’s little more than chopping, sauteing and cooking it down. The garlic, ginger, and onion will immediately put a smile on your face. Note, in a hurry I have been known to saute the onion and garlic for about five minutes, throw in the rest of the ingredients and boil the hell out of it because I was in a hurry to put something warm on the table. While the texture suffers a bit and the flavors are less developed, but no one around the table seems to notice.

There are many ways to make a meal out of this soup – here are a few of my favorites:

  • Simple spinach salad on the side, toasted sourdough, with a swirl of olive oil and sprinkle of hot pepper
  • A plop of vegan butter and salt atop the soup, toasted with smashed avocado
  • Olive oil and swirl (or two) of sriracha for the soup, crusty bread pan fried with a little butter with either jammy tomatoes or a thick slice of fresh tomatoes. There are almost always some large Cherokee purple tomatoes on the vine when I make my first batch. If opting for a fresh tomato, a thin layer of vegan mayor and a little salt will brighten and deepen the flavor profile all at once.

Ingredients

  • 1 large butternut squash, scooped and chopped
  • 1 small/medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 Granny Smith apple, peeled and chopped
  • 1 tablespoon chopped ginger
  • 1 spring fresh rosemary (off stem, chopped)
  • 3-5 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 4-ish cups veggie broth (though, I have used water and extra herbs in a pinch)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt

Directions

  • In a large pot, saute yellow onion, apple and squash, olive oil and salt over medium heat until the onions are translucent,8-10 minutes.
  • Add garlic, ginger, and rosemary and stir for 30-60 seconds, until fragrant.
  • Add a veggie broth and bring to a boil, then turn to simmer for 20-30 minutes, or until squash is very tender.
  • Uncover and let it cool slightly before pureeing – I prefer the immersion blender because it is one less thing to clean up!
  • Add small small amounts of vegetable broth to achieve the desired texture.
  • Salt and pepper to taste.

How to build a vegan food bowl

Grain bowl, Buddha bowl, harvest bowl, burrito bowl, big ass salad — or the perfectly fine and broadly used — food bowl.

Photo by Ella Olsson on Pexels.com

I was introduced to the term “food bowl” by my brother-in-law. He was chopping veggies in the kitchen while we were on vacation, resulting in a family favorite, gado-gado. I am not a big fan of the term “food bowl” – probably because it makes me think of a dog bowl. While the simple and descriptive name leaves something to be desired, a well built-food bowl does not.

A bowl is cozy and informal.  As a simple vessel they make us happy. When your create a successful good bowl, you bring together complementary flavors in one space, mixing and matching each bite. The supported sides allowing a particular architecture a plate simply doesn’t provide.  Food bowls are great for those of you overachievers out there who manage to food prep during the weekend. Without making a major commitment to a menu, you can slice and dice your a variety of veggies which makes creating your food bowl easier during the week.

An aside…I haven’t been able to bring myself to make a smoothie bowl. Yes, the colors are beautiful and I’m sure they are also delicious, but for me it’s entirely impractical. I make a smoothie so I can feed myself with one hand while accomplishing some other task like driving or checking email at the office. I have no extra time for such luxury as breakfast food bowl.

A satisfying food bowel (for lunch or dinner)  takes simple ingredients and balances flavors, textures and livens them with small amounts of flavor-enhancing goodies, like a slice of lime or drizzle of a nice balsamic vinegar to tie it all together.

I have had only two food bowl fails, both were simply too much of a good thing — carbs.  Thanksgiving leftovers and a southern veggie bowl that was poorly planned. The textures and flavor profiles were too similar, resulting in a heaping bowl of…..mush.

My kids aren’t into spicy food or even strong flavors, but I am. One reason I so enjoy making food bowls is the ability for us to build exactly what we want, and I am spared from another boring dinner and from their complaints.

Some of my favorite combinations (this week) are: Rice and romaine base + “ground beef” style tofu + avocado slices + pickled jalapenos and mangoes + lime juice and salsa

My kids, who seem uninterested in flavor,  eat a version of it like this: Rice + refried black beans + guacamole + lettuce + tortilla on the side

Before you begin building a bowl choose a flavor profile.  Are you in the mood of Thai? Seasonal garden fare? Tex-mex? Japanese? Italian? Mediterranean?

Base: Soba noodles, bow-tie pasta, quinoa, rice, chopped kale, crispy romaine lettuce, pearled couscous, millet, barley…. Or mix and match.  Note: To effort to keep my calories in check and eat more greens, half of my base is almost always romaine lettuce, lightly sauteed kale, or broccoli. These work with basically any flavor I’m in the mood for.

Protein : Chickpeas, black beans, tofu, tempeh, veggie burner of your choice, favorite meat substitute (I’m not a super fan), portobello mushrooms

Toppings: Cucumbers, sliced cherry tomatoes, green peas, sugar peas, roasted broccoli, chickpeas, sprouts, steamed green beans, roasted okra, diced/roasted sweet potato, steamed broccoli, all the veggies. All of them.

Goodies: Matchstick carrots, sprouts, pumpkin seeds, sliced almonds, chopped walnuts, maderin oranges, pickled red onions, mangoes

Extra flavor: Squeeze of lime juice, balsamic reduction, pico de gallo, salsa, thai chilis, salad dressing, shot of soy sauce, homemade Chinese garlic sauce.