When I was a girl, I loved to snitch my mother’s biggest cooking pot and take it to the back yard where the edge of the woods met the grass. There I would gather “ingredients” to make a stone soup of sorts: leaves from the dogwood tree, a few petals from the roses, violets from the edge of the woods, and my favorite ingredient of all, plenty of dark brown, crumbly earth. Then I would drag the long, snake-like green hose as far across the lawn as it would stretch and fill my pot. Grabbing a large stick to stir the magical contents, I would sing and imagine how delicious my soup might be.
I still cook in something of the same manner. I love one-pot meals. This winter, since my farmer husband harvested an abundance of butternut squash, I have been making a soup from it every week. I want to share this recipe with you because it is simple, nourishing, and entirely flexible, depending on what you have on hand or what you like best. For those who usually follow recipes precisely, you might consider this an excellent opportunity to let loose a little, have some fun in the kitchen, and get in touch with your inner child.
- 2-4 cups cooked winter squash
I use butternut because I have about 400 in my barn, but you can substitute any winter squash, carrots, or even canned pumpkin. If you’re starting with uncooked squash, toss it in an oven-proof dish and bake whole in the oven and scoop out the soft flesh, or steam in a pressure cooker for about 20 minutes. My wrists don’t like chopping big heavy squashes, so I always cook first and scoop second.
- 2-4 carrots, optional
I buy the big, sweet, fall carrots from my local farmer’s market. They add a sweet depth to the squash flavor. If you don’t have them, they aren’t necessary. And if all you have are carrots, well that’s great too!
- 1 quart broth
I usually use chicken stock, but beef or vegetable is perfectly appropriate.
- 1 head of garlic peeled and smashed
To be perfectly honest, I don’t really smash it. I hit it once with a wooden mallet, so the skins pop off, and toss it in.
- 1 onion, or leeks… or shallots, peeled, and cut in half
- 1 stalk of celery… or two
- Fresh ginger, about as big as your thumb, peeled
You can also use powdered ginger, fresh or dried turmeric, or all three if you’re feeling adventurous.
- 1 can of full-fat coconut milk, 16 oz.
…or substitute 1/2 cup of cashews or other nuts. Or use both!
- Salt, pepper, chili flakes, rosemary, sage….
The seasoning is up to you! Sometimes I stir in a little maple syrup and cinnamon just before serving, or hot pepper sesame oil.
Place all ingredients, except seasoning in a high-pressure cooker, kettle on the stovetop, or slow cooker. I set my high-pressure cooker on high for about 20 minutes, and let it release the steam naturally. Once it is cool enough, blend it in batches until smooth and creamy. You’ll hardly believe it’s dairy-free!
Season according to taste, stirring well as you add the spices. This squash soup makes a satisfying lunch, dinner, or even breakfast. Enjoy!