this creamy soup is a fall favorite family pleaser | vegan + gluten-free
Fall, end of summer heat, school schedules, waking early. The change from sunny days and balmy eves to pumpkin spice lattes and sweaters hasn’t quite caught up with us here in the land of endless summer. The produce at the market is a mix of two seasons, waiting for the shift from summer to fall. I’m craving cool mornings and overcast skies, cradling a warm mug of matcha latte in between my hands. Fall season, where are you?
At the farmers market, I’m buying as many tomatoes and bunches of basil as I can. Squashes, yams, sweet potatoes and grapes emerge on the display tables. My shopping bag weighs heavy on my shoulder as I’m sweating from the constant heat of the sun. I caress the winter gourds with my hands in the shade of the farm vendor’s stall.
Summer has lavished us with its array of colorful bounty: juicy white and yellow peaches, cherry and heirloom tomatoes in bright reds, yellows and greens, cherries, raspberries, avocados, bouquets of basil and mint.
Alas, my CrockPot sits lonely on the counter. It has been used only a few times within the scorching hot months of heat waves, when all I could contemplate making was cold sesame noodles, gazpacho, salads and smoothies. I select the shallots, red onion, sweet potato and squash out of my market bag and place them onto the cutting board. It’s almost October and I can’t wait any longer. It’s time to make squash soup in my kitchen.
I’ve been eating more raw vegetables, salads, some fruit, less processed stuff. I want to feel energized for my morning workouts. Being a working mom, there’s an ongoing stream of emails and texts to answer, lunches to pack, dinners to make, and you know, everything else.
I had quit eating natural sugars about six months ago, and noticed a big difference in the way I felt mentally and physically. With more mental balance and clarity, I feel good. My recent weight loss (I finally lost those ten whole pounds that seemed permanently stuck to my mama belly) has also inspired me. My surge in energy levels gives me a big boost in feeling good. It was simple: quitting natural sugars (maple syrup, honey, high sugar fruits like banana and dates) helped that extra weight melt off.
Aside from weight loss, I’m all in for the anti-aging and health benefits of fresh whole veggies and love how it makes me feel. Just by eating mainly fresh foods each day, you’ll notice a shift in the way you feel.
We are often bombarded by added sugars and high salt content in food products. So I use this philosophy: eat foods that are ingredients. When we eat more whole fresh food daily, the benefits make you feel so good that you won’t want to go back to eating that lifeless sad desk lunch again. Making dinner with more fresh whole foods is also extra insurance that you’ll feel better for the next day, and quite possibly get a better night’s sleep. Lately I’ve been making salad dressing with a whole tomato, fresh herbs, and a dollop of tahini in the blender. Adding life to the plate gives everyone at your table a good feeling in their bodies and bellies.
Squash & Sweet Potato Soup
This came together as a slow cooker version of my favorite basic butternut squash soup recipe. It is so easy, in fact, that I hesitate to even call it a proper recipe. You can add whatever else to it if you want, of course, the base of the soup is made with only five ingredients, plus my suggestions for seasonings, spices and toppings. Remember, the ingredients all go into the CrockPot, so chop rough (you’ll blend later), put it in, set the time, and you’ve got soup!
- 1 tbl olive, coconut or grapeseed oil
- 2 medium shallots, chopped
- 3 small or 2 large butternut squash, chopped
- 1 sweet potato, chopped, skin on (optional)
- 1 red onion, chopped
- 1 pinch sea salt
- 1 1/2 tbsp mild curry powder or turmeric
- 1 14-ounce can light coconut milk
- 2 qts vegetable broth (DIY or store bought low-sodium)
- 1 pinch sea salt + garlic powder
FOR SERVING optional
- toasted pumpkin seeds and/or pine nuts
- cilantro and/or parsley leaves
- drizzle of full-fat coconut cream
- edible flowers
- Add all soup base ingredients and 2 quarts of vegetable broth to the CrockPot and set to 3 hours.
- Once the slow cooker time turns off to warm, get a large soup pot out and place on stovetop.
- Add coconut milk (optional), curry powder (mild not spicy) or turmeric, and a pinch more sea salt.
- Blend in batches until creamy smooth using a high-speed blender, transferring the purée into the clean soup pot on stovetop.
- Taste and adjust seasonings, adding more seasoning as needed.
- Serve warm immediately, and top with garnishes of choice.
- Store leftovers covered in the refrigerator for 3-4 days or in the freezer up to 1 month. Always best when served fresh from the pot!