Yummy Vegan Yam and Butternut Squash Soup for an Autumn Day
Okay. I promised my vegetarian sister-in-law (she’s ovo-lacto, for those keeping score) that I’d provide something other than bran muffins that she could actually fix and eat. And now I’ve come up with it!
Note: You need an immersion blender for this recipe! You can use a regular blender, (or even go retro and use a food mill), but you have to do it in batches, and it can get messy, with hot soup flying all over your kitchen. Immersion blenders are cool tools, so this may be the time to treat yourself to a reasonably priced one.
Yam and butternut squash soup is a lovely, creamy soup which I found a couple of years ago in the Health section of the New York Times. While we’re on the subject, I’d like to encourage everyone to get an online subscription to that wonderful paper, if only for their cooking section. The Science and Health sections are also really good, but the cooking section has a wealth of wonderful recipes on a weekly basis.
This soup uses a white mashing/baking potato to produce its excellent texture so it is gluten-free. The soup is relatively quick to make (accent on the word relatively, there’s a lot of peeling and chopping of veggies involved), it serves six, can be made a day ahead of time and it even freezes well.
If you buy the butternut squash pre-diced, rather than as a whole squash, it decreases the prep time and work, since butternut squash is pretty tough to peel and hack up. But if price is an issue or somebody gave you a winter squash from their garden, by all means, sharpen your weapon and have to! Just slice the long neck into circles, peel the skin off, and then cut up the flesh into small pieces. Oh, and don’t forget the round, gourd-like part at the end. Scoop out the seeds, peel the skin off and chop it up as well. Careful of your fingers!
Serve this soup with a salad of mixed greens topped with chopped pecans. If you are ovo-lacto, some gorgeous crumbled blue cheese would go well on the salad. Dress it simply with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Again, if you’re not vegan, nice crusty bread from the bakery will complete your dinner. Or you can bake some bran muffins, from the last post, which I might do tonight if our California weather cools off enough to allow me to turn on the oven.
As always, read the entire recipe before starting.
Yummy Yam and Butternut Squash Soup
1 tablespoon vegetable oil — you don’t have to dirty a measuring spoon unless you’re really unsure. Just a nice dollop of oil to cook a small onion and some ginger in.
1 small onion, chopped — if you are in a hurry, buy pre-chopped onion, and use about half the container and throw the rest away, onions grow bad things in the fridge.
1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger — peel the ginger first, of course. You won’t need a huge piece, even it you like a bit more kick in you food and you increase by half the amount of ginger you add to the soup.
1 pound butternut squash, peeled and diced — pre-peeled and cut up
squash is a time saver, but more expensive.
1 pound yams (you can use sweet potatoes but they tend to be lighter in color, a bit woody in texture and have less flavor than yams, in my opinion), peeled and diced. (We are not talking about canned sweet potatoes here!)
1 medium-sized russet potato or Yukon-gold type potato, peeled and diced — these are the potatoes we didn’t want for our chicken dinner. These potatoes will melt down to mush and provide the creamy texture for the soup.
6 cups water, vegetable or chicken stock — Most containers of stock hold four cups or 32 ounces. Don’t bother opening a second container and wasting half of it. Just rinse the box or can with water and use that “stock-y” water to make up the difference.
Salt and pepper to taste — Keep tasting as you go along, adding a teaspoon of salt as you go. Just remember, with salt, less really is more. People can add salt at the table if need be. It isn’t an insult to your cooking. The average American diet contains way too much salt, so take it easy in the kitchen.
1. Heat the oil in a heavy pot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring, until tender, about 5 minutes. Add the ginger and stir until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the squash, yams, white potato, and water or stock, and bring to a simmer. Add salt to taste, (try a teaspoon first, add more later) reduce the heat, cover and simmer 45 minutes, or until all of the ingredients are tender.
2. Using an immersion blender, puree the soup. You can also puree the soup by putting it through the fine blade of a food mill, which I think would be easier than a regular blender, certainly safer. With a regular blender, work in batches, placing a kitchen towel over the top for extra security. Return the soup to the pot and stir with a whisk to even out the texture. Heat through, add salt and pepper to taste.
3. Ta, da!