We live in South Florida, and, while it starts to cool off a bit in November, we really don't have the official change of seasons with leaves changing color and the need for a sweater. So we have to rely on Starbucks changing their cup color to know when Winter has arrived. (I'm not even going to talk about the green cups because, clearly, people are crazy.) That may explain why I go a little overboard on Christmas decorations and start playing Christmas music on November 1st. I need to believe that somewhere out there snow is falling and people are roasting chestnuts over an open fire. And don't get me wrong, I love Thanksgiving, especially the food, but the build-up to Christmas is where it's at.
When I think of Winter, my mind automatically goes to food, and, more particularly, to thick, comforting soups. My go-to has always been a butternut squash soup. This year, however, Leah had a school project for Halloween where she had to decorate a pie-size pumpkin. We spent hours decorating this thing for Monday morning only for it to come right back home on Monday night. So we had this pie pumpkin painted with a wolf howling at the moon, ready to be used somehow. I had been having a hankering for butternut squash soup, and thought about making pumpkin soup, but I had yet to have a pumpkin soup that really caught my attention. So I decided to use both the butternut squash and the pumpkin. The tempera paint washed right off and I had a beautiful little pumpkin ready to be roasted. Note - this was my first time doing anything with a pumpkin beside carving it into a Jack-o-lantern.
You should also know that I have been on a "mostly" vegan kick for almost a year. Although I did reluctantly buy cream for this soup, it was naturally so thick and creamy at the end that I didn't end up using it. I did use butter, but you could easily make this vegan by substituting Earth Balance or coconut oil for the butter. Honestly, if I had known it would be so great without the the cream, I would have used coconut oil instead of butter from the start. We try to eat vegan as much as possible at home. Even Leah chooses olive oil over butter on her pasta now.
In the past, I had always peeled and cubed butternut squash, which was very arduous and nearly always ended with me cutting myself. This time I decided to stop making life difficult and to just roast both the squash and the pumpkin in the oven. To do so, you just cut them in half. Scoop out the seeds and then scrape out the stringy parts with a spoon over a sink. Done!
This soup is not a lot of work. What you end up with is a thick, creamy (without the cream) soup that is hearty enough to be the main course. Serve it with a crusty baguette and a salad, and you'll be fully satisfied!
Ingredients (Serves 6)
1 medium butternut squash
1 pie pumpkin (they are actually called that)
1 large yellow onion, diced
32 oz. Organic Vegetable broth
6 cloves fresh garlic, minced
1/2 stick of butter (or 4 tbsp. coconut oil)
1/2 tsp. ground sage
1/2 tsp. cumin
1/2 tsp. ground thyme
1/4 tsp. ground ginger
1/4 tsp. ground coriander
1 tsp. salt (I use Himalayan pink salt)
1/2 tsp. freshly ground peppercorns
1 tsp. dried thyme
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
Preheat oven to 400° F. Fill 2 roasting pans with about 1/2 inch of water and place the butternut squash halves with the inside facing up in the pan. Do the same with the pumpkin in the other pan. Roast them for about 50 minutes until tender, then take them out to cool slightly. While you are cooling the squash and pumpkin, heat the butter or oil in a large pot over medium low heat and dice your onion and garlic. Add the onion and stir until translucent. Then add the garlic and spices and sauté for a 2 minutes. Using a spoon, scoop out the pumpkin and butternut squash flesh over a cutting board (to make sure you don't accidentally add the skin to the soup) and then add it to the pot. Stir everything together and taste for salt (add more if necessary). Add the broth, stir and cook for 10 more minutes. Using an immersion blender (if you don't have one, buy one because they are worth it and pretty cheap), blend the soup til completely smooth. You can turn the heat all the way down to low at this point to keep it warm or turn it off completely. As always, salt and pepper to taste.
Get creative! One way to get out of your routine, and simultaneously save money, is to use ingredients you already have in the house. When I started restricting my trips to the grocery store to once per week, not only did I save a bunch of cash, but was forced to think outside of the box in creating meals.