Hurray! The weather has finally turned cool and drizzly, and I can‘t wait to make this simple, nutrient-rich autumn soup, cozy as a cuddle in a soft armchair. No worries about putting on extra autumn pounds if we indulge, either, because this creamy recipe may taste sinfully rich, but it’s dairy-free and contains only healthy fats. I sometimes add a chopped apple to the soup for extra sweetness, and my family likes it served with crispy sage croutons or roasted pumpkin seeds (recipes included) to give a tempting crunch. This is the soup to celebrate the autumn season, as brilliantly orange in color as the turning leaves and filled with the comforting beta-carotene antioxidants our bodies crave this time of year.
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, peeled and coarsely chopped
1 clove garlic, peeled and minced
1 medium butternut squash, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes (should be about 3 cups)
1 apple, cored and coarsely chopped (optional)
6 cups good-quality vegetable broth, more if needed
1 cup canned coconut milk, shaken well
Curry spices to taste, optional (curry flavors go beautifully with the coconut milk, but if I’m planning to use sage croutons, I forego the curry)
1. Heat the oil in a large heavy-bottomed soup pot and add onion. Cook, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes, until onion is softened and translucent. Add garlic and cook, stirring frequently, until garlic is softened and fragrant but not browned, for a minute or two.
2. Add squash cubes and stir to coat with oil. Add the apple and/or curry spices, if using. Add broth and coconut milk and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat to low, and cook for 20 to 30 minutes, until squash is completely softened.
3. Puree in batches using a blender or food processor, or use an immersion blender, or simply squash the squash with the back of a wooden spoon if you prefer a chunkier soup. If soup is too thick, add more broth.
4. Serve topped with sage croutons, below, (or roasted pumpkin seeds, a dollop of yogurt, or garnished with a couple of fresh sage leaves.
Serves 4 to 6.
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 slices good-quality country-style or peasant bread, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
2 tablespoons fresh sage, minced, or 1 tablespoon dried
In a large heavy-bottomed skillet, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the bread cubes and cook, turning often, until browned and crisp on all sides. Sprinkle with sage and cook another minute or two, until sage is fragrant.
By Cait Johnson, author of Witch in the Kitchen (Inner Traditions, 2001).