A recent event at the Socrates sculpture park green market presented an interesting challenge. The challenge was to arrive at the green market at 8am and shop from what the farmers had that day. Go home and create two vegan soups. Return to the market by noon to set up and serve by 1pm. The soups were served as lunch for people participating in a green market biking event plus a general tasting for customers at the market. The whole day was a blast from start to finish.
The fall harvest is crazy with colors and flavors from dark leafy greens to heavy yellow and orange squash. The green market had it all. I scooped up some butternut squash, carrots, apples and onions. Another farmer inspired me to purchase dark green Tuscan kale, zucchini, basil, celery and garlic. Some canned goods and other items from kitchen pantry rounded out the ideas brewing for the day’s soups.
9am and back home with the produce dumped out on the counter, oven cranked to 400F and two soup pots rarin’ to go. I had two and a half hours to cook, clean and pack. Both soups had to be strong on color and flavor without a boost from butter, cream or meats. They also needed to be quick on prep and cook times. I spent some time staring at all the produce and gulping down my second coffee of the day. Two soup ideas came to mind. A roast butternut squash soup, the roasting brings out the flavor and color of the squash. Tuscan bean soup which is a great “kitchen sink” recipe that allows for almost any veggies on hand to be tossed in. Both are hearty and full of flavor while being completely vegetarian friendly. Tuscan vegetable soup in following post.
Roast butternut squash with lemon zest and ginger (vegetarian)
Serves 4-6 people
Preheat oven to 400F.
- 1 medium butternut squash cut in half lengthwise
- 1 medium Spanish or white onion peeled and wrapped up in foil sheet.
- 1/2 tart apple peeled and seeded
- 1 can coconut milk
- 2 cups vegetable stock or water
- 1 lemon zested
- 1/4 teaspoon fresh ginger zest
- 1/8teaspoon ground nutmeg
- Salt and pepper to taste
Butternut squash halves cut side down on oiled and foiled sheet pan. Place wrapped onion on pan next to squash. Into oven for 40-50 minutes till squash softened and inside is getting a bit dark around edges and caramelized. Remove to counter to cool a bit before removing pulp, discarding seeds and skin. Let onion sit in foil to cool and then cut into quarters.
While squash and onion are roasting: Warm coconut milk, vegetable stock, lemon zest, ginger and nutmeg in medium soup pot.
When pulp is removed from cooked squash, add it to the pot along with the cooked onion. Bring all to boil and then simmer 15 minutes. Puree in pot with stick blender till very smooth. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Your guests will be pleasantly surprised at the light and bright flavors in this unique soup.
Serve with good beer and bread with salted butter, if so inclined.