They say home is where the heart is. On a visit home to Cleveland, Ohio I spent time with my family before moving back to Seattle. My mother, an artistic cook who inspired my love for food, brought over a huge bag of butternut, spaghetti and acorn squash, haikido pumpkins, sweet potatoes and apples. She told me to use them before they went bad, but between jet lag and reverse culture shock, I did now know what to make.
Several days later, I went with my father to the Cleveland Art Holden Arboretum. Starving, we tried to find several restaurants to eat at in the Case Western area, but sadly on Sunday the only two options were Panera or Chipotle. We went into Panera and my dad ordered the autumn squash soup. I tried a bite and enjoyed the sweet mixture of squash and spices.
Tasty and sweet to the palate, I knew this soup had to be laden with something. Later, I looked at the ingredients list and noticed the soup is laden with honey, sweetener and of course dairy (dammit!).
As I looked at the counter, I realized my mother brought over all the necessary ingredients to re-create a vegan winter squash soup. Although I refuse to make a soup so sweet that its like eating cake, I thought why not recreate a healthier version just to stay warm and to energize the body.
The health benefits from squash are some of the best nutrients we can consume. It can help people manage their diabetes, boost the immune system (high loads of Vitamin C and magnesium), improves respiratory health (Vitamin A) and increases cardiovascular health (from the magnesium and potassium).
When you make this soup, I found the flavors really come alive the next day and when the soup is warm (not piping hot). When its boiling and too hot you can't taste the flavors as strongly.
If you'd like the soup to be sweeter or creamier, you can adjust the maple syrup and nondairy milk quantities. I don't overpower the cream as it takes away the flavor of the apple and squash. This soup is easy to make and the most time consuming method is cutting the squash. You can always buy precut squash, but note that is sometimes more expensive than the real thing. Enjoy!
Vegan Winter Apple-Butternut Squash Soup
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 20-30 Minutes
Total Time: 40-50 Minutes
32 ounces no-sodium vegetable broth (4 cups)
1 XL Butternut Squash (8 cups)
1 Large Haikido pumpkin (5 cups or regular/canned)
2 3/4 cup onion, chopped (sweet onion is ideal)
1 3/4 cup apple juice (organic or fresh squeezed)
2 tbsp vegan butter
1 tsp curry powder
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ginger, chopped
1/4 tsp cinnamon
optional: 1 tsp maple syrup + 2 tbsp nondairy milk
Begin by prepping the squash, pumpkin, onion and ginger. Cook the onion in the butter until translucent. Add the squash, pumpkin and ginger and cook for 5 minutes. Next, add the broth, spices and apple juice. Cook until the vegetables are soft (about 20-30 minutes).
When cooked, remove from the heat and either with a hand immersion blender or a regular blender, blend the soup into a puree. Return back to the pot and add in the optional maple syrup and nondairy milk. Serve warm.
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Elizabeth Rae Kovar M.A. is Author of her memoir, Finding Om and is a Fitness Trainer, Yogi, Reiki Master, Presenter and Lover of Life. To view her portfolio please visit www.elizabethkovar.com