Growing up with an Italian grandmother and a mom who were always up to something in the kitchen, it’s no wonder that cooking seems to come naturally to me. They gave me a good foundation, a lot of family recipes and many happy memories. Through the years, I’ve learned a few lessons along the way and I was reminded of them while making today’s recipe for Roasted Winter Squash Soup.
Mise en place. A French culinary term that means “everything in its place”. Get all of your equipment in place and ingredients measured out before you start. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve tried to wing it and left something out of the recipe. For today’s recipe, I’m modifying Emeril Lagasse’s recipe for Roasted Butternut Squash Soup (sans the sausage). It’s not a difficult recipe, just a long list of ingredients.
Safety first. Several years ago I purchased a mesh glove to prevent cuts. I haven’t used it in, well, in several years. Well, that girl came out of the cabinet today after I cut myself peeling the squash. I also recommend:
- wearing closed-toed shoes in case you drop your knife
- swim goggles when cutting onions
- hearing protection when using a high speed blender
Learn to adapt. I could have searched for a “vegan butternut squash soup” to find recipes, but I found more variations by leaving out the “vegan” in my search and then left out the meat in the recipe. For this soup, I eliminated the sausage and added fennel seeds. You can learn a lot about cooking techniques from the masters, so look to them for inspiration and make plant-based adaptations.
“There are no mistakes in the kitchen; only new recipes waiting to be created. ” I heard this a long time ago and it is one of the best lessons I’ve learned. Don’t be afraid to make a mistake; and when you do, laugh at it and learn from it. Like my grandmother and mother before me, my hope is that I can pass on some of these lessons to you. Thanks for being Vegi-curious.
Roasted Winter Squash Soup
1 (1 1/2 pound) butternut squash, peeled seeded and rough chopped
olive oil (or water to saute vegetables)
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 cup small dice onion
1/2 cup small dice carrot
1/2 cup small dice celery
1/2 cup small dice leeks
2 tablespoons minced shallots
1 tablespoon minced garlic
½ teaspoon fennel seeds (optional)
2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
1-1/2 quarts vegetable stock (or Better Than Bouillon No Chicken soup base)
2 teaspoons maple syrup
1 teaspoon fresh chopped sage leaves
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
Place the chopped squash in a medium-size mixing bowl. Drizzle the squash with 2 teaspoons of olive oil and season salt and black pepper. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper or aluminum foil and place the squash on top. Set the sheet pan into the oven and roast for 30 minutes, or until the squash is lightly caramelized and tender. Remove the squash from the oven and set aside.
While the squash is roasting, lightly coat a large sauce pan with oil (or use 2 tablespoons of water). Add the onions, carrots, celery and leeks and saute for 5 to 7 minutes. Add the shallots and garlic and cook for 1 minute stirring continuously. If using fennel seeds, add at this point. Deglaze the pan with the vinegar and add the stock. Place the squash in the pan with the maple syrup and sage.
Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Continue to cook the soup for 30 minutes, or until the vegetables are all tender. Use an immersion blender to puree the soup to a smooth consistency and velvety texture. Alternately, you can puree the soup in batches using a blender. Taste the soup and re-season if necessary with salt and pepper. Keep warm until serving.