Like a lot of triathletes, I rely on my blender to fix quick meals year round. In the spring and summer when I'm training all the time, I make smoothies almost every day to pack in calories and nutrients with minimal effort. This fall, I used the blender as a soup-making machine to stock my freezer so that come January, John and I can enjoy a home cooked meal when we’re sleepwalking through new parenthood.
Last weekend I whipped up a double batch of butternut squash soup flavored with ginger, rosemary, and roasted garlic. Garlic normally scares me away from a recipe because I worry that it’ll dominate the dish. Roasting it blunts the piquant flavor enough that I don’t spend the rest of the day tasting garlic. I like about an inch of peeled, chopped ginger in this soup, to get a nice zing, without adding a heat. Melissa accidentally used two inches, grated on a rasp, in one batch. She reported that the spice was overpowering in the first spoonful, but that ultimately she liked it that way—especially since she had a head cold at the time.
This low-maintenance recipe is a good one for the holiday season, when there are cards to write, gifts to wrap, nieces and nephews who need a baking pal, and not much time or energy leftover to cook. The ingredient list is short, and includes many pantry staples. Roasting the squash takes an hour, just the right stretch to fit in a bike trainer workout and a quick shower. As a bonus, this recipe is also vegan and gluten-free.
John and I ate this soup with grilled Swiss and bacon sandwiches for lunch on Saturday, and with kale salad for dinner that night. I stashed the rest of the batch in the freezer, next to containers of black bean soup, bison chili, and sweet potato curry.
I still have a few weekends before the baby is scheduled to arrive, and could use a few more ideas for meals to freeze. Let us know what your favorite foods to cook now and eat later? And, more importantly, what did you crave when you were a new parent??
Creamy Butternut Squash Soup with Ginger
Time: 25 minutes, plus 1 to 1 ½ hours to bake the squash
Serves: 3 to 4
To bake the squash:
1 small butternut squash (about 1 1 /2 pounds)
½ teaspoon olive oil
pinch kosher salt
2 unpeeled garlic cloves
2 teaspoons chopped rosemary
To prepare the soup:
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
½ teaspoon kosher salt
1 to 2 inches fresh ginger
1 cup plain, unsweetened almond milk
1 teaspoon soy sauce (or Bragg’s Aminos)
1 cup water
For the garnish:
Freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons toasted pumpkin seeds
Preheat the oven to 350° F.
Cut the squash in half lengthwise: Slice off the stem end. Stand the squash on the flat cut side and use your triathlete muscles to cut it down the middle.
Scoop out the seeds with an ice cream scoop or spoon.
Rub ¼ teaspoon olive oil over the cut sides of each squash half. Sprinkle each half with a pinch of kosher salt.
Place 1 unpeeled garlic clove and 1 teaspoon chopped rosemary in each cavity.
Lay the squash skin side down in an 8-inch square glass baking dish or an aluminum foil-lined baking sheet. Cover tightly with aluminum foil so that the squash doesn’t brown or crisp. (I was out of foil when I made this and had to flip the squash halves, while keeping the rosemary and the garlic inside the cavity. It tested my patience a little bit!)
Bake until the inside of the squash is very soft, 1 to 1 ½ hours.
While squash is cooking, peel and chop the ginger. Measure a heaping tablespoon and freeze any leftover to use in your next batch of this soup (this recipe is so easy and flavorful that we’re pretty certain you’ll make it again).
Heat a frying pan over medium heat for one minute. Add the 2 teaspoons olive oil, chopped onion, and ½ teaspoon salt. Cook, stirring every minute or so, until the onions are translucent, 5 to 6 minutes. Add the ginger and 1 tablespoon water and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Remove the pan from heat.
When the squash is soft and cool enough to handle, scoop the insides into a blender. Squeeze the cooked garlic out of its skin and add it to the blender, along with the cooked onions and ginger, the almond milk, and soy sauce.
Turn the blender on low for a few seconds to incorporate the ingredients.
Add the cup of water to the blender. Cover the blender lid with a kitchen towel to catch any splatter. Turn the blender on low, and gradually increase speed and puree until the soup is smooth.
Top each serving with a grind of black pepper and some toasted pumpkin seeds.