A Fall Squash Soup Recipe

I have been making squash soup every fall for the past three years. It has become somewhat of a tradition of mine to make a large batch some time in fall, since to me it encompasses the Fall flavours and feelings. Sweet, earthy and spiced soup is a welcome warmth in the chilly Fall weather, and a great way to get into the Fall spirit and make enough meals for at least a few days. I find I typically make enough for 6-8 meals, depending on the amount of squash I use, and usually costs about fifteen dollars. Most of it for the squash. I typically just use whatever spices and seasonings I feel like using that I already have in my pantry. This recipe is how I made it this year, but I encourage you to use whatever herbs and spices you have and like.

Squash

You can use any kind of squash you like. Here are a few of my favourites:

Butternut Squash:

This is commonly made into a soup on it’s own. It’s sweet and has a slightly buttery flavour. If you only want to use butternut, I would recommend that you use only two for this recipe, as they are quite large.

Acorn Squash:

One of my favourites to add, since it’s more savoury and nutty in flavour. I find that it has a different taste than most other squash I have tried, so it adds a savoury note I enjoy. I used the outside of the acorn squash I used as the bowl in the picture.

Red Kuri Squash:

I tried this kind just this year and it’s great. Sweet and creamy, and has a slight nutty flavour.

Sweet Dumpling Squash:

It tastes almost identical to sweet potato! This one is also really pretty to hollow out and use as bowls.

Ingredients:

3-4 squash, any size. If using all small to medium squash, 4 is best

1 tbsp oil, plus some for brushing on squash

2 tsp salt

2 small onions, or one medium – any type – finely chopped

2 cloves garlic, finely grated or minced

2 tsp minced sage

1 tsp thyme

2 tsp cinnamon

2 tsp curry powder

1 tsp nutmeg

2 tsp smoked paprika

6 cups chicken or vegetable broth

1 tbsp maple syrup

¼ cup plain yogurt or sour cream

Instructions;

  1. Preheat oven to 400° F or 205° C.
  2. Wearing gloves, halve and de-seed the squash.
  3. Place squash on parchment paper or foil lined baking sheets.
  4. Brush squash with oil and sprinkle salt. You can also add other spices here, like cinnamon.
  5. Roast until you can pierce the flesh with a fork with little resistance – approximately 40 minutes to 1 hour (larger squash, like butternut).
  6. Meanwhile, finely chop onions, mince or grate garlic, and mince the sage.
  7. When they are roasted and cool enough to touch, scoop out the flesh into a bowl.
  8. Heat in a large pot on low/medium.
  9. Add spices and toast, stirring constantly until fragrant – about 1-2 minutes.
  10. Add oil and onions, cook until onions are soft, about 10 minutes, stirring often.
  11. Add the minced garlic, sage, and thyme. Cook for another 5 minutes.
  12. Move onions, 4 cups broth, squash, maple syrup, and yogurt into a blender, or into the pot if you have a hand blender.
  13. Blend with hand or traditional blender, adding more broth as needed to blend. Taste often, and add more broth and seasoning as desired. (NOTE: In traditional blender, blend in small batches.)
  14. Pour back into pot, or turn heat back on, and heat thoroughly.
  15. Serve and store the rest in a resealable container in the fridge for up to a week, or in the freezer for up to two months.

Additions and omissions:

This is your soup! You can change the seasonings however you like. Don’t have smoked paprika? Don’t use it. Don’t have any maple syrup? You don’t have to use it either. Many squash are sweet on their own. Want to add a spice or herb I didn’t mention? Go ahead and put it in. As for the amount of broth, this will make a very thick soup, which I prefer, but you can add as much broth or water as you please. Have fun with the recipe and enjoy it!

 

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Cheap & Deep Fried Sides

We’ve all been there: poor, hungry, and strapped for time.

Don’t you just wish your home was a fast food restaurant? Well, it could be. Or at least sort of.

One of the advantages your average fast food place has on you is a deep fryer. It’s fast, it makes the food for you, and it’s very expensive. But even without a deep fryer, you can deep fry stuff at home. These are recipes you can prepare in advance then freeze for a quick meal. The most time consuming thing is heating the oil.

If you don’t have a deep fryer at home, just heat up some veggie or canola oil in a pot (don’t do non-stick if possible. It isn’t the best for those pots.)

Fries:

Here’s the classic – fries.

All you have to do is chop up potatoes and throw them in the heated oil. Wait 15-ish minutes until they’re golden brown. Drain on a plate with a paper towel and use the paper towel to toss them around a bit after sprinkling some salt on them.

Variations:

You can also make fries with sweet potatoes / yams, carrots, turnips, or virtually any root vegetable.

Cheese Wontons:

This one requires a bit of prep work. You need wonton wrappers and cream cheese.

Cut up the cream cheese into cubes.

Use your finger to rub water along the wraper’s inner outline. Fold your wrapper around it in half, diagonally, then fold the edges into ridges.

Throw them in the freezer and they’ll keep for a week or more.

To cook, throw them in heated oil for 3-5 minutes or until golden brown (or darker if you’d like them really crunchy).

Tips:

  • One way to keep the oil clear as you’re frying is to throw a baby carrot or chopped up carrot piece in there.
  • One way to know if your oil is hot enough when using a pot is to look for crinkles in the oil. If you don’t understand what I mean, wait for it. You’ll see them.
  • Put in just enough oil to cover, but stay clear of the brim of your pot. You don’t want to get splashed with hot oil.
  • In case your oil does splash out of the pot, and you’re using an open element, and it starts a minor fire – don’t use water to put it out. Stay calm and move your pot to a cool element. close your element, cover the fire with a pot lid. Once it’s out, you can turn the element back on and continue cooking.
  • Deep frying uses a lot of oil, but you don’t have to lose the oil you use. You can save your oil for next time if you let it cool and then pour it into a container. So long as the oil is fairly clean, you can use it a couple more times.

Allergy-friendly vegetarian recipes

 

As a vegetarian, it can be hard to entertain guests with food. Now, one thing in particular makes this difficult for me: I have a lot of friends with food allergies.

As such, I have gotten to know and compile many recipes for different allergies.

Lactose-Free: Zucchini Casserole

Ingredients:

  • 4 large zucchinis
  • 2 onions
  • 2 tablespoons oil
  • 3 eggs
  • 3/4 cup flour
  • teaspoon soup broth powder
  • salt
  • pepper
  • bread crumbs (optional)

Instructions:

  1. Cut the onions into cubes and fry with the oil.
  2. Grate the zucchinis and squeeze out as much liquid as you can.
  3. Mix together all the ingredients except for the bread crumbs.
  4. Spread the bread crumbs evenly over the bottom of a casserole dish.
  5. Put the mixture over the breadcrumbs and level it out.

 

 

6. Bake in the oven for 40 minutes at 355 degrees. Let it rest after taking it out. It will be hard to cut right away. Don’t worry – it’s meant to be that moist.

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This casserole is good both hot or cold. It’s reheatable if needed.

Gluten-Free: Spaghetti Squash Baked Ziti

Ingredients:

  • 1 spaghetti squash
  • 1/2 jar marinara sauce
  • 1/2 container cottage cheese
  • 8 oz. mozzarella cheese, shredded
  • 4 oz. cheddar cheese, shredded

Instructions:

  1. Cut the spaghetti squash in half, carve out the middle gunk, and lay on a baking sheet.
  2. Put into the oven at 375 degrees for 45 minutes.
  3. Let the halves cool, then scrape the insides out with a fork. If it’s too hard to scrape off, put back in the oven for another 10-15 minutes.
  4. Mix the spaghetti squash strands with the marinara sauce, cottage cheese, and half the mozzarella cheese.
  5. Pour mixture into a greased 9×13 pan and sprinkle with the rest of the mozzarella and cheddar cheese over the top.
  6. Bake at 400 degrees until the cheese melts and begins to brown around the edges.IMG_20160403_214440

Egg-Free: Scalloped Potatoes

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1-1/2 cups milk
  • 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1-3/4 pounds potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced (about 5 medium)

Instructions:

  1. Melt butter in a pan and stir in the flour, salt and pepper until smooth; gradually adding milk.
  2. Bring it to a boil and cook for 2 minutes, stirring until thickened.
  3. Remove from heat and stir in the cheese until well blended.

     

  4. Place half of the potatoes in a 1-1/2-qt. baking dish coated with cooking spray, then layer with half of the cheese sauce.
  5. Repeat layers.
  6. Cover and bake at 350° for 50 minutes.IMG_20160405_183328
  7. Uncover; then continue baking another 10-15 minutes, or until bubbly and potatoes are tender.