This summer, like most summers, I planted a garden. We used the compost that I’d been working on for a year. We bought organic dirt, and I rummaged around for the seeds that I’d been saving. Some were from packages (and probably a few years old at best), some saved from last year’s Abundant Harvest Organics produce. They were planted with eager anticipation. It happens every spring. The daily ritual of watering, peering into the black dirt to see if there’s even one sprout. And for days, there’s nothing. And then it’s like a thousand tiny miracles happen overnight. There are tiny sprouts, some shyly emerging from the dirt, as if unsure. Some are a bit more bold and brave, seeming to grow inches in minutes.
Most of the brave ones are squash.
My composter is the type that you add kitchen scraps to and then roll around outside to mix it up. So it doesn’t have a layer of dirt dirt at the bottom the way some do. It doesn’t bother me to have partially decomposed fruits and veggies mixed in with the dirt. No big deal. Except that I didn’t know that it’s really best to add the compost about a month before you plant. Gives the volunteers some time to die off.
Now I know.
I’d planted summer squash, watermelon, cantaloupe, green beans, snap peas, tomatoes, basil, potatoes… and more. I ended up with a few of the things I’d hoped for and some that I hadn’t intended at all.
Winter squash. In the summer. Oh well, the growing process is fun no matter what I end up with. And I learned something from it, so double win.
Thankfully the winter squash will keep foreeeeeeever on the counter. I harvested this spaghetti squash in like July (um because I accidentally pulled out the plant when I was clearing out some dead vines). I was saving it for something special… or just fall. I don’t really know. It just didn’t get eaten and all-of-a-sudden it’s soup time again and the winter squash are screaming to be used.
I will comply.
Every year I look forward to fall so I can get back to the thing I love most: All. The. Soup. It’s one of the best ways to get so many veggies into a dish. Today I had peppers (sweet and chile), onion, carrot, garlic, and squash (both summer and winter) on hand. I had a ton of garlic chives and fresh basil too.
I roasted the squash yesterday so that this would be pretty quick. A bit of olive oil on the inside and out, a hot oven, an hour or so, and they’re done. I let them cool and then refrigerated overnight. All I had to do to the squash today was scrape it out and add it at the right time. Easy.
I’m always amazed at what happens when veggies, stock, vinegar, and some salt are simmered for a while. It’s a little like magic.
This is pretty much a straight up vegetable soup, until you add the coconut milk or cream. That’s what makes it extra special. But, if you don’t have either, don’t sweat it. Just make an awesome Squash and Carrot Soup and call it good.
Like most soups, this will probably taste best tomorrow, so I’ll just go ahead and add it to the menu again.
- 1/2 spaghetti squash (or other variety), seeds removed (once cooked, roughly chop the spaghetti-like strands so they aren't too long)
- 1 t + 2 T olive oil
- 2 1/2-3 C veggies (any): bell or sweet pepper, summer squash, carrots, parsnips, cauliflower, celery, green beans, radish, chile pepper (ribs and seeds removed), onion, shallot, leek; diced
- to taste salt
- 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 t maple syrup or honey
- 1 T balsamic vinegar
- 1/4 t dried (or 1/4 T fresh) thyme
- 4-6 C veggie stock (could also use chicken)
- 1/4 C fresh herbs: basil, garlic chives, parsley; diced
- coconut milk or heavy cream, for serving
- Pre-heat oven to 350F.
- Brush squash with 1 t olive oil (inside and out). Roast cut side down for about 60 minutes, or until flesh is tender. Set aside. (This step can be done ahead of time, squash cooled and refrigerated for up to a few days.)
- Heat a soup pot over medium-low. Add 2 T olive oil. When oil is hot, add veggies and salt. Cook for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add squash and garlic. Cook for 2 minutes. Add balsamic vinegar and cook for 1 minute. Add thyme (if using dried) and stock. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook for 30 minutes, or until veggies are tender. Add fresh herbs and cook for 3-5 minutes more. Taste and adjust seasoning if desired.
- Serve with a bit of coconut milk or cream swirled into each bowlful of soup.