Monthly Archives: December 2012

Squash and Roots Soup

Time for another adventure in cooking with Mo.  If you have seen the other recipe on my blog (Baked Salmon with Veggies), you will know that I don’t really measure stuff.  I just cook, add, taste, throw in some more of whatever, taste again, and at some point it is done.  I also often just take what I have in the house that is about to go bad, so substitutions are encouraged and expected.  This recipe is called Squash and Roots Soup, since you can use any squash (don’t forget that pumpkins are squash!) or any roots that you have hanging around.  I made it all veggie, since I am planning to give some to my meditating, Buddhist, vegetarian, and baseball mad friend Ed.  He is the husband of Sue, she of Swedish exchange student loving fame (see my post, David the Swedish Exchange Student, Please Give Me Back My Friend, for all the gory details…).  If you aren’t afraid of meat products, you can use chicken broth instead of veggie broth.  The spices I use all come from Penzey’s, who have the best spices in the world.  Look them up on the web, they are great.

Let’s get started!

Ingredients:

1 acorn squash

1 sweet potato

3 yukon gold potatoes

1 shallot

3 carrots

1 purple onion

1 carton (32 oz.) of Trader Joes’ Veggie Broth

2 garlic cloves

herbs (salt, pepper, sweet curry, tarragon, marjoram, ginger powder, nutmeg)

sweetener (sugar, brown sugar, or agave)

olive oil

butter

1 cup or so of water

1/2 cup or so of milk

1/2 cup or so of vanilla greek yogurt

An oven that is preheated to 350 degrees

To begin, find some squash and some roots.  I originally had two acorn squashes, but one went bad.  So I supplemented with the potatoes.  Cut the acorn squash in half and scoop out the seeds.  Place it cut side up on a cookie sheet.   Cut the potatoes in half also, and lay them on the sheet.  Prepare two garlic cloves.  You can either crush fresh, or do what I do and use the frozen Dorot garlic squares from Trader Joes.  I pop out two little garlic ice cubes, microwave them in a cup for 10 seconds, and they are ready to go.  No mess, no fuss.  Add olive oil, tarragon, salt and pepper to your garlic in a cup, and brush it over your potatoes and the inside of your acorn squash.  Peel a shallot and throw a piece into each acorn squash bowl.

The acorn squash, potatoes, and shallot after baking.

The acorn squash, potatoes, and shallot after baking.

Bake all of this in your 350 degree oven for 30 minutes or so.  If you end up using pumpkin or a bigger squash, cut it open, scoop out the seeds, and then cut the squash into pieces.  Brush them with oil like the potato pieces.  When they are done take them out and let them cool for 5 or 10 minutes.

Baked stuff ready to go into the soup.

Baked stuff ready to go into the soup.

While the S+R are baking, take a large soup pot and put in some butter (3 or 4 pats) and some olive oil.  Add the herbs, along with a diced purple onion and the carrots.  Cook the veg for 10 minutes or so, until soft (carrot) and translucent (onion).   Set aside if the S+R aren’t done baking.  When they are done and cooled, slice the skin off of the sweet potato and cube it.  Just cube the potatoes skin on.  Scoop the insides of the squash out with an ice cream scoop.  Take all of this baked goodness and add it the soup pot on top of the stove.  Pour in the veggie (or chicken) stock.  Bring to a boil, and then simmer with the lid on for about 20 or 30 minutes.  I poked and smushed the veg with my wooden spoon while I stirred.

Simmering.soup

All the ingredients in one pot together, just getting along.

While it is simmering, taste the soup broth.  I added more of all of the spices.  I also added in sweetener at this point.   I have used brown sugar in the past, this time around I used blue agave nectar.  Mostly just to say I used blue agave nectar.  Be careful with the nutmeg, it is easy to add a little too much of that.  Less is more with that spice.  I noticed my soup was getting a little thick while it was simmering, so I added a cup or so of water.  After is is done simmering, puree the soup.  I just use my hand blender in the pot.  If you are really a nut about smooth consistency, you will have to take the soup out of the pot and put it into a blender or Cuisinart.  I don’t really care about that, so I just blended it in the pot as best I could.  After it is blended, set it aside to cool a bit.

The cooling is important because now we need to add some dairy, for that smooth, creamy feeling on your tongue.  It is also good for strong bones and teeth!  I added in milk and greek yogurt, which I mixed in a cup together first to get out the yogurt clumps.  Cream would also work, as would regular plain yogurt.  Whatever you add, the soup needs to be cooled a bit so the dairy doesn’t clot.  After you blend in the creamy goodness, your soup is done.  I hope to get some to Ed and Sue and the gang.  What I really hope is that David the Swedish Exchange Student thinks that is it as good as his “moder” makes…

What cute soup!

What cute soup!

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Destination Borrego Springs

Andrew and I took a few days off from the kids.  We spent them in Borrego Springs.  We headed east into the back country, through Lakeside, Ramona, and Julian, and then kept going.  We drove up and over the San Ysidro Mountains, and finally dropped down an 8% grade of twists and turns, losing a few thousand feet of elevation, until we were on the desert floor.  Mountains behind us, nothing but the flat desert in front.

It is only two hours away from San Diego, but it is a different world.  Slow, sleepy, dry, cactusy (if that’s even a word).  There were palm trees and sand, but not much else to remind us of home.  We stayed at the Borrego Valley Inn, a 14 room inn with caramel colored adobe buildings.  There was a courtyard with a zebra finch aviary, fountain, and outdoor fireplace, private patios off of the back of the rooms, and home made cookies in the main building in the afternoon.

We took a trip out to Galleta Meadows, a large dedicated open space with dozens of iron sculptures of animals and fantastical creatures by Ricardo Breceda.  The rust brown patina on the sculptures is perfectly complimented by the intense blue desert sky.

A photo gallery of our trip is below.

Green.door.m.n.a

The green door to our patio, at different times of day. Morning, noon, afternoon.

The hallway outside our room.

The hallway outside our room.

Our room, on the end of building.

Zebra finch aviary in the courtyard.

Zebra finch aviary in the courtyard.

Zebra finch up close.

Zebra finch up close.

Cactus in the courtyard.  I love the way it is backlit, it has a halo of sunlight around it.

Cactus in the courtyard. I love the way it is back lit, it has a halo of sunlight around it.

Clouds, mountains, road

Clouds, mountains, road

Giant sea serpent sculpture.

Giant sea serpent sculpture.

Close up of the scales.  See what I mean about the brown and the blue?

Close up of the scales. See what I mean about the brown and the blue?

Velociraptor in the desert.

Velociraptor in the desert.

Happy tortoise.

Happy tortoise.

Gives a new meaning to suckling pig...

Gives a new meaning to suckling pig…

Desert road in Galleta Meadows.

Desert road in Galleta Meadows.

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Filed under Family, Travel