Fall is for making SOUP!

I spent the past week in my hometown of Spring Grove, Minnesota for a lovely little country escape to recharge my batteries — I love returning home and being surrounded by my family. While home, I got to attend three of my sisters senior volleyball games, which was so special to me, as I absolutely adore living in New York, but I really dislike missing out on witnessing my siblings grow up. My sister’s team won all three of their games, ending their regular season matches ranked number two in their state division. If the girls keep playing as well as they have been, hopefully I’ll be able to fly back to Minnesota and watch them play in the state tournament — fingers crossed!

It was unusually cold in Minnesota during my time at home, and it even snowed on Sunday, which although I despise the cold, it was beautiful to look at and made for the perfect day of baking and cooking in a warm kitchen. I made pumpkin cinnamon rolls which I mentioned a few blog posts ago, chocolate chip espresso cookies, as well as several different types of soup during my week long stay. I also had the distinct opportunity of having my wisdom teeth removed during this trip as well, so soft foods, or moreover soup for every meal, was essential. Sadly, said soft foods didn’t prevent me for developing a dry socket, but that’s neither here nor there.

I love soup, especially during the colder months, because it’s quite easy to make, and you can add almost anything to a soup, as it’s quite forgiving. There is really nothing like a warm bowl of soup on a cold winter day or night to bring a sense of warming comfort to your body. I like soups and stews in all forms, flavors, and variations, from thin and brothy to thick and chunky — I will never say no to soup, especially if loaded with crackers and served in a bread bowl.

I had my wisdom teeth removed the day after I flew into Minnesota, so in an effort to be prepared, I made myself a big pot of butternut squash and cauliflower soup — because I could only eat soft foods, I wanted something that was smooth and creamy, but also hearty. This soup was quite simple to make, as I used roughly 10 ingredients, and it took less than an hour to complete.  I started by sweating onions and garlic in avocado oil with a generous pinch of sea salt and ground black pepper, followed by a pinch ground ginger and nutmeg to bloom the spices — when using dried herbs and spices, it’s best to add them in at the beginning of the cooking process so that they release their full amount of flavor and potency. After roughly 10 minutes of sweating, I added a whole butternut squash which I had previously peeled, seeded and cubed, a head of cauliflower which I roughly chopped, and two peeled and diced potatoes. I quickly sautéed the vegetables and then added in an entire carton of vegetable broth, covered the pot, brought the ingredients to a boil, and then reduced to simmer and cooked until all of the vegetables were very tender. I allowed the soup to cool slightly and then I blended it in batches to a very smooth purée and adjusted the seasoning as necessary.  If you are a recipe follower, click HERE for the complete version. This soup was so delicious, and quite creamy all thanks to the potatoes. It was the perfect meal to enjoy on a cold day, and especially after getting my teeth pulled.

The next soup I made was carrot and ginger soup, which was also puréed, and actually similar in taste to the butternut squash soup, but this time, I opted for fresh ginger root instead of ground ginger to give the soup more of a spicy ginger kick, and I swapped out potatoes for cashew cream. To make cashew cream, simply soak raw and unsalted cashews in water for at least 8 hours — you can also boil the cashews to expedite the process. Once soaked, drain the cashews and place them into the bowl of a food processor and begin to pulse, slowly adding water to create a cream consistency — this will add a luscious mouth feel to the finished soup and will also aid in the thickening process. This soup begins the same way as the other soup, by slowly sweating onions and garlic with salt and pepper in a large pot, but this time, fresh ginger root was also added. After the onions, garlic, and ginger have cooked for roughly 10 minutes, the peeled and cubed carrots are added and then sautéed for roughly 10 more minutes. Once sautéed, add vegetable stock, cover and bring the ingredients to a boil, then reduce to simmer and cook until the carrots are very tender. Once tender, allow the soup to cool slightly, then purée until smooth in a blender, return to the pot, add in the cashew cream, and adjust the seasoning as needed. Not only does this soup taste delicious, but the fresh ginger also gives your immune system a boost and could aid in the prevention of fall illness due to the colder temperatures. If you wanted to make this soup a little heartier, you could also add in red lentils for a boost of protein, fiber, and carbohydrates!

I really love soup. It’s one of the easiest things to make in advance and store in your refrigerator as a make ahead meal. Soup and stews are also an easy way to pack a ton of vegetables and nutrients into your diet, which is essential during the colder months to help keep your immune system strong and yourself healthy. A big pot of soup and can be thrown together in no time, with as few or as many ingredients as you desire. As a treat to yourself and your body, try experimenting with different soups this fall and winter. Your taste buds and immune system will definitely thank you!

Happy Fall,

Payton

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