Friday, October 31, 2014

Time for autumn soup

The air is crispy and squash is everywhere so that can only mean it must be time for autumn soups.

First up ....hmmm...I might do a series every roasted butternut squash soup. I have tried butternut squash soup over the years, some good, some not so much. This one here is definitely my favorite version for a couple of reasons. One, if you have ever tried to cut up a butternut squash in pieces to then boil the crap out of them and make it into soup, well you know it can be a dangerous task. And anyone that knows me, knows that me and knives do not go together at all. The more difficult the veggie is to cut, the greater the likelihood of an ER visit. So, by only having to chop these squashes up a minimal amount of times (like twice), we are all a happy, 10 digited family. :D

Second, roasting the squash brings out the sweet flavor of the vegetable that cannot be achieved by boiling and when mixed with the butter and salt to start in roasting and then adding it to the soup you get an oh-so-yummy flavor that cannot be replicated otherwise.

And finally, since I have so little time, I can make this in pieces and prep ahead, roast one night and soup the next night for a quick dinner. Once you have this roasted in can be store in the fridge for a few days until you are ready for the soup and it cooks up really quick.

So on to the recipe.....

Roasted Butternut Squash Soup

Prep time - 1 hr to roast squash
10-15 min to chop ingredients and get ready

15-20 min to cook

2 medium squash (3-4lbs)
1 tbsp. vegan butter

1 yellow onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, diced
2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 c. (1 stick) vegan butter (I used earth balance)
2 1/2 c. veg. broth
2 1/2 c. water
1 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
1/3 c. rice milk (or you can use soy milk)
2 tsp cornstarch

Toasted squash or pumpkin seeds (recipe below)

  1. Preheat oven to 425.
  2. Cut squash in half, then cut the half in two more equal halves.
  3. Scoop out the seeds and wash, rinse, dry and save for toasting.
  4. Line a baking sheet with foil and place squash pieces fleshy side up.
  5. Melt butter in microwave then brush all over the tops of the squash.
  6. Sprinkle with salt/pepper if you want.
  7. Roast for 50 minutes to one hour (should be able to pierce with a fork).
  8. When squash is done set aside to cool until you can handle it.
  9. At this point, you can scoop out the squash from the skins and put it in a storage container and put in the fridge for when you are ready to do the soup (if you do it late at night like me)
  10. Continuing on to soup, heat oil and half the stick of butter in stock pot. Add diced onions. Saute until they are soft, about 5 min.
  11. Add other half of butter and melt it, then add the diced garlic and saute for 1-2 minutes more.
  12. Add the squash to the pot and mix it all together.
  13. Add the veg broth, water, salt and pepper and mix it all in, bring to a boil.
  14. Reduce heat to med-low and simmer for 15 minutes.
  15. Meanwhile, mix the cornstarch with the ricemillk until it dissolves.
  16. Add the rice milk with the cornstarch mixed in to the soup and stir. Remove from heat.
  17. With an immersion blender, blend all the squash until it is nice and thick. If you do not have an immersion blender, you will need to add this to a regular blender a few batches at a time until it is blended then put back in pot. I would highly recommend the investment of an immersion blender if you are going to be doing some soups. Just so much easier.
  18. Do a taste test and add more salt/pepper or any other spice you might want if needed.
  19. Serve with toasted squash seeds and avocado slices.


Seeds from squash or pumpkin
1 tsp olive oil

  1. Preheat oven to 375
  2. Spread washed, rinsed and dried seeds on baking sheet
  3. Drizzle with the oil and add salt. Mix them all around on the sheet and spread back out
  4. Toast for 7-9 minutes until golden brown and crunchy.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Beans, gardening and seed saving

A new twist on the blog - gardening.

This year I actually managed to get a garden going, although weeks past the date that I should have started. I purchased organic non-gmo seeds from I also needed to buy a small indoor greenhouse, which I happily did - at Wegmans. It looks kind of like this, except there is also shelving across the back.
I put it in my garage, went out and purchased lighting to hook up underneath each shelf. Then I had to buy organic soil. I went to Amazon for that task and picked up 4 bags of this stuff.

Once I had seed trays started (late), I went to work, checking, nurturing, etc. I lost a lot of seeds after they came up because my lighting was too far away - they got leggy. Some got the mildew rot. But I still ended up with tons of tomatoes, beans, sunflowers, peppers and more tomatoes. Did I mention tomatoes? Anyway, as said, I got a really late start on the seeds.

This led to late crops, no crops, half crops and bumper crops. My beans are fantastic, I will definitely do them again next year. Every tomato seed I planted came up and since I did not have the heart to throw any away I planted them all. Big mistake since they took up most of my garden. But it was actually good since I didn't have much time to be in there weeding and tending, and they are very low maintenance anyway.

This year I built a trellis in my garden, at the entry way, to accommodate the pole beans and the chinese yard long noodle beans. Now those were interesting!

I loved my trellis most out of the entire garden this year. It added interest and it also provided a place for the morning glories to climb as well.

The first part of the crops to bloom were the purple pole beans. Little purple flowers burst forth  at once and soon I found myself with my first harvest by May.

These beans are super sweet and very easy to let go to seed. They are fantastic raw in dips and on salad.

Once the trellis was in full bloom it looked AMAZING. And then the beans just started coming, and coming, and coming and holy cow what was I supposed to do with all of them?

I had noodle beans.......

chinese reg long noodle beans

I had purple pole beans....

and I had green beans, which I later found out matured into shelly beans...

What happens when you forget to, or don't quite see all the beans you should be picking? Well, you get overripe green beans that at first glance appear as though they are meant for trash. But guess what? You can actually save those, take the seeds out of the pods not quite dry, boil them for 30 minutes in salted water. Then cook them for about 5 minutes in a saute pan with onions and garlic and you got yourself a protein packed, and bean rescued harvest for dinner.

shelly beans with garlic and onion

 OH MY! This was sooo yummy and I am sorry I didn't keep more of them for cooking. I had my last bumper crop tonight and picked all the beans I had left. Some were completely dry which I will save for seed and the rest for soup. The purple pole beans and green beans went to freezing. I blanced them in boiling water for 4 minutes after I washed and chopped them, and now they are happily in my freezer for later use. 

Some of my early crops,  I dried on string hung in a sunny dry place and they are ready for later use in a soup or stew (picked that up in Williamsburg while on vacation this year).

As for the rest of my crop, I am about to have a gazillion green tomatoes that I need to bring in and place in a box with newspaper to see if they will ripen up for me. If not, I will can them and save them for something else. They make a great refrito.

Overall, I was totally thrilled with my garden this year. Next year, I will plan better, move things around and will get it in the ground earlier. Right now I have lots of basil and oregano still growing, and my scallions are also doing great. Basil will be cut to dry soon.  Oh now the planning begins for next spring!