Tag Archives: animal-free cooking

fall-in-a-bowl soup

16 Sep

This is only sort of a recipe post. My cooking strategy borders on haphazard and too often I don’t keep track of proportions when I am making something up as I go. I like the freedom of adding dashes of this and a sprinkle of that, but there is always risk with cooking that way. Sometimes things don’t taste the way I hope; sometimes I love the way something came out and then I can’t ever make it the same way again.

I made a big pot of soup for a gathering of friends last weekend, and it received such favorable reviews that I thought I’d try to record what I did. As an encouragement for anyone who wants to make their own version, I think that this combination of veggies is hard to go wrong with, whatever spices you choose to use. Butternut squash and carrots pair wonderfully together, and I like to add sautéed onion and potato to squash soup to add some interesting texture. This was a great meal to welcome Autumn and all her bounty. Also, for what it’s worth, I don’t think any of the meat-eaters in our group could tell that the soup was vegan. It came out so rich and flavorful, and it was so loaded with veggies, that I definitely didn’t get that “something is missing” feeling.

I’ve made variations on an ultra-simple Butternut Squash Soup for years, and I just love the rich color and delicious flavor of butternut squash. It pairs so well with other veggies; you can make it sweet with apples or zap it with curry and it’s great just about any way in between. Last fall I started roasting my squash instead of boiling it, and I can’t see myself going back to my old method. Roasting does take a little more time, but the difference in flavor is worth it. Roasting vegetables like squash and carrots brings out their sweetness and sort of intensifies their flavor. I also like to think I’m getting more of the vitamins by roasting, but it’s possible that I am deluding myself.

Here’s the “recipe,” with the caveat that I’m definitely not a professional chef (that much may be obvious because of the spice combinations I used), and I am piecing this together from memory. Also, although it takes me a bajillion words to say anything, this isn’t a hard soup to make. You can do it too, in just over an hour! It should go without saying that if you don’t want to make such a massive quantity, just divide things in half– one squash and one pound of carrots will still make a good amount.

start with these.

 

Vegan Roasted Squash-Carrot-Etcetera Soup

(makes enough for more than 14 large servings)

5 lbs butternut squash (I used two medium squash)

2 lbs carrots

2 shallots (I wouldn’t usually use these because they’re expensive and I guess my palate’s just not sophisticated enough to tell the difference between a shallot and a little bit of onion, but they were on sale at Save-a-Lot)

1 large red onion

4-5 medium potatoes

to taste:

several sprigs fresh rosemary

olive oil

vegetarian margarine

thyme

minced garlic

vegetable bouillon

cinnamon

nutmeg

ginger

salt

pepper

1. Cut squash in half. Scoop out seeds (feel free to save these for drying/roasting).

2. Scrub carrots and cut into 2-3 inch pieces. I didn’t peel my carrots. More fiber, less work.

3. Rub the bottoms of two roasting pans with olive oil. Place the squash cut-side down in the pans, and add the carrots, shallots and rosemary. Pour 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil over the carrots and toss gently to coat. Sprinkle the carrots and shallots with salt and pepper.

one pan of veggies ready to be drizzled with olive oil and roasted

 

4. Roast in a 375′ oven until the carrots can be easily pierced with a fork. In my oven, this was about 45 minutes. I checked on my veggies every 15 minutes or so and took the opportunity to toss the pans to ensure everything was coated with olive oil.

5. Remove from oven. Allow to cool slightly so you don’t burn yourself like I did. Discard the rosemary.

While the squash and carrots are roasting you can work on step 6:

Combine about a tablespoon of olive oil and a tablespoon of margarine in a large skillet over medium heat. Chop up the onion and add it to the pan when the margarine is melted. Chop the potatoes up small and add them to the pan too. Sprinkle with about a teaspoon of thyme, and salt and pepper to taste. Stir occasionally and keep cooking until the onions and potatoes are cooked through (onions translucent, potatoes just beginning to develop a brown crispiness). Add several tablespoons of minced garlic and cook for a minute or two longer. Remove from heat.

red onion and potatoes ready for sautéing

 

7. In a very large pot (I used my best one, a 6.5 qt dutch oven given to me by my Aunt J) set about 6 cups of water to boil. Add vegetable bullion to taste. Reduce heat to low.

8. Add the roasted carrots and shallots to the vegetable broth. Use a spoon to scoop the flesh out of the butternut squash skins, and add that to the pot too.

9. Once you’ve got everything simmering away in the pot, it’s time to blend the soup. I am lucky enough to have an immersion blender that I love, love, love (thanks to my cousin C who got me in Secret Santa last year). If you don’t, you’ll need to use a regular blender and blend the soup in batches. Sorry I don’t have any more pictures of this process; I will trust in your imaginations, readers.

10. Add the sautéed onion, potatoes and garlic to your smoothly blended soup. Taste it. Add more salt and pepper if you like. If, like me, you think your soup needs a little extra something, add about 1 teaspoon cinnamon, a couple pinches of nutmeg, and a pinch of ginger. I found this really brightened the soup and heightened the deliciousness factor. But that’s just me.

11. You are done. Enjoy!

This batch of soup was very thick, which some of my friends appreciated because it was even more hearty and filling than it would otherwise have been. If I had had room in the pot, I would have thinned things out a bit by adding some water. It would be a great space-saver to freeze the soup in its more concentrated form.

undiluted, this soup was super thick and hearty.

watered down a little, it's still loaded with goodness (and texture from the onions and potatoes). perfect to enjoy with some crusty bread and a salad.

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