At 10:48am this past Saturday, it began. Fall is officially upon us. Try as you may, you can’t stop the seasons from changing. All you can do is hope against a repeat of 2011’s Snow-Tober and embrace the cooler, darker mornings, the earlier sunsets, the changing leaves and all that comes with fall.
A few positives about the onset of autumn – The return of boots – wrestle them out of their summer hiding places – backs and tops of closets and wear them proudly! Sweaters, fashion tights, football, the NYC Marathon, season premieres of your favorite shows. Oh yes! Fall is filled with wonderful things.
The chill in the air also ignites a desire for sipping, savory soups.
Let me just be honest: a bowl of soup does not a meal make. Those girls in their Manolos and Pashminas who would smile as they popped a head into my office at lunchtime and say: ‘Hey, I’m going to get some soup, wanna come?’ drove me insane. Hot soup is a starter. Cold soup is a pallet cleanser. Neither is a meal.
I don’t care if it’s loaded with rice or pasta or jam packed with vegetables and infused with cream. Soup isn’t a meal. OK, yes when the proportion of protein – beef, chicken or turkey NOT tofu or egg – far outweighs the amount of liquid, it can be a meal. But that’s a stew or a chili – not a soup.
So, to celebrate the season of soup and kick off #SquashWeek….A Souper Starter:
Vegan Butternut & Avocado Squash Soup (serves 4-6)
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees
1. Cut a 3lb Butternut Squash in half and remove the seeds….The 3lbs is a guideline and unless you have a food scale, you may never know how heavy your squash is as under 5lbs generally won’t register on a regular scale. Because I was curious, I stood on my bathroom scale and weighed myself and then weighed myself with the squash – exactly 3lbs. Just lucked out on this.
OK, splitting the squash is the hardest part and requires patience, strength, courage and the right tools….sharp knife and knife resistant glove. These tools do look like murder weapons, but the only thing murdered was the squash I assure you….
2. Drizzle the cut side of the Butternut squash with Olive Oil and a little salt and place cut side down on a rimmed baking dish lined with tin foil
3. Cut an Avocado Squash in half, drizzle the cut side with Olive Oil and salt and put cut side down on the baking dish with the butternut squash
NOTE: The avocado squash added another layer of flavor. It’s sweeter and a bit more delicate. The seeds are small, and since I was going to puree the soup, I left them in…
4. After 30 – 35 minutes, remove the Avocado Squash from the oven and allow to cool.
5. Once cooled scoop out the flesh from the squash and set aside
6. The Butternut squash will take longer to soften – closer to :60 minutes. You will know it’s done when you can easily pierce it with a fork. Remove from oven, allow to cool and then scoop out the flesh and set aside
7. In a large saucepan, heat 2 tbsp of Olive Oil and then add in two diced shallots and saute until fragrant and softened – about :06 mins
8. Add the squash flesh, 1 qt of Vegetable Stock and 1 1/5 tsp of Curry Powder and bring to a boil – I used mild, but you can go as spicy as you like
9. Reduce to a simmer and cover for :10mins until the squash flesh is broken down
10. Remove from heat and allow to cool for :05 – :10 minutes
11. Working in batches, transfer some of the mixture to a blender and puree. If you like a little chunk in your soup….just chop, don’t puree. Transfer post-blended soup to a new saucepan on the stove and keep over low heat. Repeat until all of the mixture is blended and soup-ified
BE CAREFUL! If the soup is too hot…it will blow the top off of the blender – seriously, let it cool!
12. Once heated through, garnish with parsley and a drizzle of Olive Oil and serve hot.
NOTE: If you are not Vegan, you can add a dollop of Sour Cream
Fall is here. Celebrate it! And with the dawning of fall, Squashweek has officially begun. So, get some colorful squash from your farmer’s market, grab a sweater, put on those boots, tune in to football or the newest episodes of your favorite TV shows and start any fall meal with this Souper Squash Soup.