Roasted Butternut Squash and Sweet Potato Soup
Tonight’s soup was so creamy and smooth, it was simply warming and delicious. Butternut squash can be a bit of a pain to prepare for soup, so my favorite way to do it is by roasting it first. Not only does it make the tough skin slip right off, but the roasting heightens the sweet and nutty flavours of the squash. As a nice added touch, roast the squash seeds and use them as a tasty garnish.
- 1 butternut squash, sliced in half
- 2 medium-sized onions, peeled and diced
- 1 large sweet potato, peeled and cubed
- 2” piece of ginger, peeled and minced
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin, plus a pinch more for seeds
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- freshly ground pepper to taste
- 4 cups vegetable stock
- 3/4 cup coconut milk
- 1 tablespoon olive oil plus more for drizzling
- Preheat oven to 425°F.
- Cut squash in half lengthwise and remove seeds using a spoon. Rinse the seeds and remove as much pulp from them as you can then lay them out onto a baking sheet. Drizzle olive oil over them along with a pinch of sea salt and ground cumin. Cook in oven for 5 minutes (careful not to burn them). Remove from heat and set aside.
- Drizzle olive oil over squash and sweet potato, add a pinch of sea salt and pepper. Place squash cut side down onto a baking sheet. The sweet potatoes can be laid out onto the same baking sheet.
- Cook sweet potatoes for approx. 20 minutes or until fork tender. Cook squash for approx. 50 minutes, or until fork tender. Remove from oven and let cool for a few minutes.
- In a large pot, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add onion and ginger and sauté for 5 minutes or until onions are translucent.
- Now that the squash has cooled slightly, remove the peel, roughly cut the squash into large cubes and add into the pot along with the sweet potato.
- Add vegetable stock and bring to a boil. Lower heat and let the soup simmer for 20 minutes, making sure the squash is tender.
- Using a handheld blender, puree the soup. Add coconut milk and stir.
- Garnish with roasted squash seeds and serve. Enjoy!
Conscious Cooking: Mushroom Broth
Sipping Broths are all the rage in the “foodie-world,” but broth – or stock – has been a big deal in the culinary world for a long time. The earliest form of stock was probably made around the same time that humans began boiling water. It’s a known fact that some of the oldest recipes are the simplest, and therefore they are most likely to be passed on throughout history. Many probably started from the same place, the same idea, the same accident. Someone, somewhere, a long time ago dropped their scraps into a pot of water because they were either curious or desperately needed to eat and tried to make the most of what they had. And that led to stock, which led to soup, which led to stew, which led to gravy, which led to sauce, which led to everything we eat today, in some way, shape or form. But the original survived as stock.
Sipping Broth: Stock That Can Stand Alone
Every good chef knows how to make a stock, whether it be beef, chicken, fish, or some variation of vegetable; but every great chef knows how to make a broth that can be eaten on its own–without anything fancy to cover it up or hide it from the world–just a spoon and maybe a piece of bread. And that’s what happened with the sipping broth trend. Some trendy restaurant decided to serve their beef broth on its own and people went crazy over it.
At first I was slightly annoyed by this trend (“Why are people drinking broth? It’s meant to be cooked with!”), but then I realized that if people were buying broth to drink, they would eventually be looking for ways to make their own. Broth is, after all, one of the simplest and quickest ways to nourish the body. Because of its long, slow, cook time, the water in stock is able to procure every possible nutrient out of every ingredient within the pot. A slower cooking time means that most of the things that get broken down during our digestion process happen in the pot instead of our bellies, this allows our bodies to better absorb the nutrients in the stock. It means healthier eating habits, and full, happy bellies. The more people who know how to make a good broth, the better.
Taking Stock of Mushrooms
So let’s talk stock. A great stock has a deep earthy quality to it, a slight oiliness, and silky flavor. The best kind of stock, in my humble opinion, is made with mushrooms–just plain, old mushrooms. Mushrooms are incredible. They have a healing power. They have intricate root systems, they are made up of beautiful bacteria, they are fungi, they pop up seemingly out of nowhere, and they can grow on anything that is fertile enough to host them. Mushrooms have a meatiness to them, and they are full of a natural umami flavor (“umami” is considered the fifth flavor profile that our palate detects, and is identified as both sweet and savory), which makes them perfectly nourishing for a delicious stock. They add depth and earthiness to beef stock, so why not take the bones out of the equation and give the humble mushroom its turn in the spotlight?
Mushroom Sipping Broth
This recipe calls for many nutrient-rich and flavorful ingredients for a reason: it is meant to be eaten, or sipped on, by itself. Though, I would not frown upon using it as a base for a soup, or stew, or even as a substitute for water when cooking rice or quinoa–by all means, cook with it!. That’s what broth is meant for, after all.
- 18 oz. Button Mushrooms
- 1 Medium White Onion
- 1 whole bulb of Garlic
- 3 Dried Mushrooms
- 1 Small piece of Kombu Seaweed
- 1 tsp crushed Red Pepper
- 0.5 Cup of Sherry
- 4 Tbsp Soy Sauce
- 2 Tbsp Olive Oil
- 5-7 Cups Water
Chop the mushrooms into quarters. Slice the onion into strips. Peel a whole head of garlic, separating each individual clove. Crush each clove with the side of your knife. Remove and discard the paper-skin covering the flesh. Add the mushrooms, onions and garlic into the pot along with all of the other ingredients, water should be added last. While adding the water, be mindful of how much broth you would like to have and add about half of a cup more than that amount.
Place the pot on the lowest heat possible and let it come to a simmer, once the water is simmering remove the Kombu from the pot. Allow the rest of the ingredients to stay at a low simmer for 1-1.5 hours, covered. Do not let the stock come to a boil as this will produce a cloudy and separated stock. The gentler the simmer, the better. Stir occasionally. When you are ready, pour the broth into a large bowl through a colander and let it cool to room temperature. Store the broth in an airtight container in the fridge or freezer.