Mary Helen Leonard, author of The Natural Beauty Solution and professionally trained culinary instructor, shares recipes, projects, tips, and stories about living a more natural, handmade, and creative life with her family in Austin, Texas.
I really have a thing for orange colored foods. Sweet potatoes, carrot juice, nacho cheese... Whether you are talking about health food or junk food the color orange is usually a sure-fire sign that I'll like it. That's one reason why I make soup from root veggies so often. Besides my natural affinity to warm colored vegetables I find these soups to be stupid easy to make and extremely versatile when it comes to flavoring. I've made about a zillion variation on the basic pureed veggie and stock combo. I've added curry spices, cheese and broccoli, and even miso. It seems like every time I turn around I'm making an orange colored soup.
This soup is a little extra vibrant thanks to some fresh turmeric. Turmeric not only adds a bright, sunny flavor to this soup, but is also valued for its potent anti-inflammatory properties. Between an ongoing lack of sleep and hours spent everyday hunched over a tiny little person I have my fair share of aches and pains. Add to that discomfort my battle with Austin's dreaded Cedar Fever and you've pretty much sussed out my motivation for making a batch of turmeric soup. I'm inflamed, baby, and I need something to bring that mess down a notch.
By the way, I thought of calling this stuff Sunshine Soup because it's flavor struck me as bright. Turmeric has a taste that is hard to describe - the closest adjective I can seem to muster is sunny. Thus Sunshine Soup. Some Googling revealed several other recipes for Sunshine Soup, but none of them seemed to be anything alike, so I'm guessing that the title isn't really officially attached to any particular soup yet. When it goes for a vote, remember me. Turmeric = sunny = sunshine soup. Makes sense, yes?
Butternut Sunshine Soup Makes about six one-cup servings
2 lbs. butternut squash, peeled and cubed
1 large sweet onion (vidalia is best, but yellow will do), peeled and chopped
If I had to describe myself based on a defining skill, I'd have to say that I'm an idea person at heart. Nothing really gets me going like a good brainstorming session. My husband shares the same over-active imagination. We've spent many a road trip engineering make-believe business plans, inventing impossible machines, or dreaming up imaginary characters and stories.
When it comes to food, coming up with new ideas can be trickier than you might think. Thanks to the internet, it seems like almost everything has been done before. So when I come up with something new, I try to stay away from Google while I'm working things out. Nothing takes the winds out of my sails like finding out that my great new idea has been done umpteen times before.
This soup, for example, was a fairly simple thing, but its newness gave me a thrill. I steamed the squash, pushed it through a food mill, then whisked it together with chicken broth and miso paste. I tasted it, then decided to add a little salt and a splash of sesame oil. Developing this recipe wasn't rocket science, but with my belly full of warm soup I felt kind of like a genius anyway.
Now that I finished making my soup I Googled a bit and found that, yes, other people have had this idea as well. You can check out recipes from my fellow soup geniuses here:
By the way, HELLO food mills! Where have they been all my life? A big thanks to Aneelee for letting me borrow hers. I'm now in love with pushing food through mesh.
Simple Acorn Squash & Miso Soup Makes about three cups
1 acorn squash
2 cups broth/stock
1 tablespoon shiro miso paste
1/4 - 1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
chopped chives or scallion (optional)
Cut the squash into about eight large chunks, removed the seeds, then steam or boil until very soft. You can either push the unpeeled chunks through a food mill, or scrape off the peel and puree the flesh in a food processor.
Combine the squash and broth in a saucepan. I used homemade chicken stock, but veggie stock or dashi would also be fine. In fact, I suspect that you could even just use water and still have a pleasant tasting soup.
Whisk in the miso paste and salt.
Bring to a simmer, then whisk in the sesame oil.
Serve hot, and garnish with sliced scallion or chives (if you have some handy).
This week's guest post is from Nelly at Aneelee. Aneelee is a family-friendly vegetarian food blog where Nelly shares tasty recipes, weekly meal plans, and stories from her family kitchen. Keeping up with Aneelee is a treat for me since Nelly and I share the same CSA. I often check out her blog for inspiration on how to use up my own share of fresh local veggies. This delicious soup is a great example of the kind of healthy, delicious fare you'll find there. Thanks for sharing your recipe, Nelly!
Earlier this week my Father began a long flight from Houston to Beijing. Naturally, this left me fraught with jealousy and nostalgia. Oh, the food. Oh, the madness. I loved living in China, and will always feel a pinch of regret that we ended up leaving way too soon. It's a life goal to live abroad again at some point. Being an ex-pat is marvelously romantic. Even when daily life kicks your ass, it feels worthwhile, more like an adventure than a hassle.