Fall in Michigan is truly a natural wonder. It’s almost a clichè, with its trees clothed in their royal robes of red, orange and gold, shedding a flamboyantly autumnal path for you to swoosh (and later crunch) through…
Cider mills are milling, pumpkin patches are patching, and I am souping.
Maybe it’s the brisker climate that does it to me, but every fall, without fail, I go into soup mode. I make soup year-round, but there’s just something about autumn that compels me to make it more often. It’s a very harvest-y food. It’s also a universal food. Think about it… Every culture in the world eats soup. It’s inexpensive and comforting and filling. It’s a great way to make the most of your leftovers. It’s also so forgiving (Thank you, soup, for absolving me of my cooking sins… I genuflect at your tureen…)! What I mean is, you can put your own twists on a basic or classic recipe to customize it to your liking. My jeans should be so forgiving.
This is one of those recipes that allows you to mix and match your favorite root vegetables. I’ve never made it the same way twice! For instance, I don’t do beets. I just don’t get the whole beet thing. So instead, I used carrots, parsnips, turnips, rutabaga and squash. Feel free to interchange your root veggies; just be sure everything is cut uniformly so it all roasts up evenly.
And if you do like beets and want to use them, we can still be friends. Just know that their juices will for sure turn your soup a hue somewhere between salmon (color, not fish, because vegan) and dubonnet. Which is actually quite beautiful! I wish I liked beets. I wish I didn’t think they taste like dirt and sticks and other stuff you’re not supposed to eat. I guess that makes me a beetist. Brian loves them, and I feel kind of guilty sometimes for not buying and preparing them for him just because I don’t like them. Then again, he can buy his own ding dang beets and make them his own ding dang self! Don’t get me wrong… Brian wears the pants in the family. I just tell him which ones to wear.
Get ready for your kitchen to fill with the savory aromas of autumn, and ladle yourself up a big ol’ bowl of this rich, creamy deliciousness!
- 2 lbs. assorted root vegetables, such as carrots, turnips, parsnips, rutabaga, peeled and cut into 2-inch chunks
- 1 butternut or acorn squash, about 2 lbs., roasted
- 6 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
- ¼ teaspoon ginger
- ½ teaspoon dried thyme
- 1 teaspoon curry powder
- 1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)
- 3 cups vegetable broth
- 1 cup non-dairy milk
- 1 cup unsweetened applesauce (alternately, you can roast 2 peeled, cored and cut up apples along with your vegetables)
- 2-3 cups water
- Salt and pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 425. Place vegetables on a lightly oiled, foil-lined baking sheet and pour oil over. Season with a little salt and pepper, then gently mix it all together with your (obviously clean) hands so that all the vegetables are coated.
- If using butternut squash, cut in half lengthwise; for acorn, cut right across the middle. Scoop out the seeds and stringy stuff. If using for pepitas, place in a bowl and fill with enough water to cover the seeds, add a dash of salt and let soak and place in a bowl; otherwise, discard. Rub each squash half with a little oil and place open side down on another foil-lined baking sheet. Place both pans in the preheated oven.
- Cook for 30 minutes, turning the vegetables once halfway through. Continue to cook until tender and nicely browned, turning every 10 minutes. The squash may take a bit longer, depending on its size.
- While vegetables are roasting, heat 3 tablespoons olive oil in a large saucepan or Dutch oven on medium. Add onion, garlic, cinnamon, ginger, thyme, curry and pepper flakes, if using. Season with a dash of salt and a crack of black pepper. Cook until onion is soft and spices are fragrant, 5-7 minutes.
- Add vegetable broth, milk and 3 cups of water. When vegetables are roasted and have cooled a bit, Add to the broth mixture. The squash should slip easily out of its skin (sassy squash) and can be chopped roughly and added to the pan. Bring to a boil; reduce to a simmer and let cook about 20 minutes.
- Working in batches (or using an immersion blender, which I highly recommend), puree in a blender until smooth and creamy. If it’s too thick, add water a bit a time until it reaches the consistency you like.
For the pepitas: Dry completely. In a small bowl, toss together ½ tsp. each olive oil and maple syrup, 1/8 tsp. each cinnamon and ginger, and a dash of salt. Place on a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake at 325 for 6 minutes. Remove from oven and let stand until cool.
Freeze soup in airtight containers, leaving 1″ of space, for up to 3 months.