I'm eating this soup for breakfast today. I'm not kidding.
It's Monday, and it's raining. (Welcome to November in Toronto), and I spent my early morning running the kids to school, grocery shopping, and hauling out garbage bins under a blustery mist of rain, and I'm chilled to the bone.
While I waited for my tea to steep (and organized the fridge), I remembered I had bought chopped butternut squash and some leeks the other day, and I needed to use them up. I've been working on a perfect butternut squash soup for my cookbook for a while now, and wanted to test drive what (I hoped) would be the final version. I think it hit the spot, but I'll let you decide.
I meant to eat "breakfast food" while I was cooking it, but a flurry of activity (and lack of counter space) kept me from my morning bagel, and suddenly I was starving. Fortunately for me, this steaming pot of golden soup, with it's warm smells of cinnamon, nutmeg and chili flakes wafting into the air, was ready. Lucky me!
What I love about this soup is that it's super-easy to make (because the squash roasts in the time it takes to prep and saute the remaining ingredients), and because it's a pureed soup - so there's no need to worry about fancy knife skills and perfectly diced veggies. Rough, large chops are totally fine here. It's ready in less than an hour and is a great fall/winter staple.
Roasted Butternut Squash and Leek Soup
8 cups of butternut squash, cubed
1 leek, root and top discarded, and sliced into rounds
1 large onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, sliced
4 tbsp olive oil, divided in half
1 vegan chicken bouillon cube
1 cup water
4 cups vegetable broth
1/2 tsp each: ground cinnamon, paprika, crushed chili flakes*
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1 cup coconut milk
salt and pepper to taste
*you can adjust the chili based on your preference for heat. This amount gives it a warm heat without being too spicy - but enough to know it's there.
Preheat oven to 400F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper or silpat.
Toss butternut squash with 2 tbsp olive oil and salt/pepper in a large bowl. Arrange on a single layer on a baking sheet and roast for 20-25 minutes until tender but not mushy.
Soak leeks in a bowl of cold water for 5 minutes to loosen sand or dirt. Strain by removing leeks with a slotted spoon, leaving the water in the original bowl. (Don't strain leeks the way you drain pasta, otherwise you'll just pour all the dirt and sand back on to them.)
In a large pot, heat remaining 2 tbsp of olive oil on medium-high heat, until shimmering. Add onions and cook until soft and translucent, about 7 minutes. Add leeks and garlic and cook for an additional 10 minutes until leeks are soft and wilted.
Add bouillon cube, water, vegetable broth, roasted squash and spices. Stir well to combine, and bring to a boil. Immediately reduce heat to medium and simmer for 10 minutes.
Add 1 cup of coconut milk and cook for 2 minutes. Remove from heat and puree using an immersion blender (or transfer to a blender in small amounts). Adjust salt and pepper and serve.
Seriously, you could order a lean corned beef sandwich AND sweet and sour chicken balls at the same time. To six-year-old me, this was brilliant. In some way, it probably led to my current love of taking everyday favourite foods and giving them an international twist.
Ginsburg and Wong hasn’t been around for a very long time, and even if it were there now, grown up, vegan me wouldn’t have much interest in it, but tonight’s dinner reminded me how much fun it is to mix cuisines and create something wonderful. Like my Asian-inspired “chicken” noodle soup.
My littlest one has been sick all week, and hasn’t has much of an appetite, but bow-tie pasta and clear soup are two things she will almost never turn down. And with the weather being what it is (hello Fall in Canada), soup is pretty much on everyone’s mind lately. When I was sick as a kid, Lipton’s chicken noodle soup was my go-to comfort food. That bright yellow broth and slurpy noodles...it was like a hug in a bowl.
An acquaintance recently introduced me to the vegetarian chicken soup base at Bulk Barn (which is 100% accidentally vegan!) and it’s been my number one soup and flavour base ever since. So off I went to make her some vegan ‘chicken’ soup. But I also had some mushrooms, green onions, smoked tofu and ginger lingering in the fridge that needed to be used up. So I grabbed a little soy sauce, hoisin and sriracha and BOOM! Asian ‘chicken soup was born.
It’s like the hugs of my childhood, with a spicy, rich twist.
Quick and Easy
1 package of pasta/noodles, cooked according to package directions
6 cups water
⅓ cup vegetarian chicken soup base (or two cubes of vegan chicken bouillon)
2 tbsp olive oil
½ large onion, diced
1 thumb ginger, grated
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 green onions, chopped
1 cup mushrooms, sliced
1 tsp soy sauce
2 tbsp vegetarian hoisin sauce
Sriracha to taste
½ block of smoked tofu, sliced into strips
Cook pasta according to package directions and set aside.
In a large soup pot, heat oil on medium-high heat until shimmering. Add white onion and saute for 5-7 minutes until soft and slightly translucent. Add mushrooms and continue to saute until mushrooms are lightly browned and soft. Add green onion, garlic, ginger and simmer and additional 3 minutes.
Add water, veg soup base, soy sauce, hoisin sauce and sriracha. Stir to combine. Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer for 7-10 minutes. Add pasta and smoked tofu to pot. Adjust heat level (sriracha) and seasoning (soy or hoisin sauce) to taste. Serve immediately.
With back to school just around the corner, extra curricular activities starting up again, and the general easy-breezy-lazy days of summer fading away, I'm starting to prepare myself for the busy days ahead. Which, if you're like me, means a whole lot of running (ok, driving) around shuffling little people to and fro, and constant trips to the grocery store, Walmart, etc., all while still trying to manage a career.
Morning breakfast rush, school lunches, after-school-on-the-way-to <insert activity here> snack - all perfect examples of times where quick, make-ahead, healthy snacks (like these no-bake, low sugar chocolate chip energy bites) are a lifesaver.
These delicious little bites pack a bunch of protein and energy in a cute little package that stores well, travels well, and is just sweet enough to let the kids think they're getting a treat. (Hint: they have the same effect on moms too!)
Best of all, they require no baking; take less than 15 min to make and travel well. They are a staple in our house/lunch box/diaper bag/snack pack.
We keep ours nut-free so that our entire house can enjoy them, and so we can send them to school, but you can easily swap out the NON-nut butter for peanut or almond butter too.
(makes about 20 bites)
1 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup wow butter (or natural unsweetened nut butter of choice)
1/3 cup sticky sweetener of choice (we use Mama Vegan #NoBees vegan honey but maple syrup or agave works well too)
1 cup coconut flakes
1/2 cup ground flaxseed
1/2 cup unsweetened chocolate chips
1/4 cup chia seeds
1 tsp vanilla
Mix all the ingredients together.
Refrigerate mix for 10-15 min to make it more firm.
Scoop out mix a tbsp at a time and roll into bite size balls.
Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days.