Welcome to our regular recipe column from teacher and stand-up comedian Sarah Whitmore. This time around, Sarah gets a little salty about her vegan winter squash soup recipe.
Blame my purse
Recently, my neck seized into a snarled bunch and it took a full week of nonstop complaining to straighten it out. I blame restaurants. Others? They blame my purse. My purse weighs as much as the large Tibetan singing bowl on display at the studio where I practice yoga. This bowl, available for sale online, is made of 99.8 percent pure quartz—and if utilized properly, will nourish creativity. I spend 99.8 percent of every yoga class pondering the mysterious remaining point two percent of that bowl. According to my yoga instructor, I should focus more on spreading my toes out as far as I can. She directs me to do such a number of outlandish things, I have trouble discerning which actions are essential. I’ve learned that rake-wide toes are non-negotiable. Anyway, my purse is heavy because it’s filled with salt.
My favorite restaurants are goofy about salt. It’s either no salt on the table or the dumbest possible fancy salt shakers. Nothing screams “blockhead-alert” like a restaurant with ground-breaking salt shakers. Chefs, remember: One person’s fancy is another person’s reason to grind their teeth to an angry dust.
Among the worst special salt shakers are the thumb-depressor style. Are we having lunch or ejecting out of helicopters? I’m a loving person, but I hate your weensy, bespoke, irregular-shaped bowls of salt—with the bitty, fairy spoons. While you’re at it, force me to wear oven mitts and eat with tweezers.
Most people ditch the mini-spoon to dredge their nasty digits through the bowl—pinching away like grooming monkeys. Sure, salt has antibacterial qualities, but I carry plenty of personal-use salts in my purse. There are so many foods that simply suck with a salt deficit: seafood, popcorn—but most of all, soup. My personal nightmare is the expensive, salt-free, dishwater-themed winter squash puree. Sometimes a pear is tossed in for seasonal pizazz! I would rather have my tongue slammed in the pantry door, repeatedly, than participate in another one of those disappointing Autumn slurries.
Hands down, the recipe I’m most frequently asked for is this creamy, sweet, gently spicy soup. Strangely, coming from me, it’s vegan. I make it for holidays and big potlucks, which are often teeming with vegans too tired to cook.
This is the soup I make for the people I love. Like my little, vegan nephew—littlest of them all, just saying.
For this soup to be delicious and vegan, those onions must be caramelized. Extracting every loving bit of flavor from the onions is how we avoid imposing upon a sentient creature in this situation. Did you think veganism would be easy?
Creamy Autumn Holiday Soup
- 4 adorable Honeynut squash, about six pounds
- 2 Garnet Yams, about 1 1/2 pounds
- 3 yellow onions
- 1/2 bottle of beer (sweet and strong)
- 1 quart water from a local, non-sulfurous, natural spring—Ha ha, old bathwater is fine.
- 2 13 oz. cans full-fat coconut milk
- 1 13 oz. can coconut cream
- 2 to 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 to 3 tablespoons Miyokos Cultured Vegan Butter
- 3 to 4 tablespoons Tamari
- 2 or more tablespoons of your favorite Sriracha sauce
- Optional: 1 to 2 tablespoons Thai Kitchen Red Chili Paste—contains fish sauce—which, even if the fish were vegan, IS NOT VEGAN.
- 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg (fresh-grated is worth the knuckle abrasions)
- Pinch of ground cloves
- Salt to taste. Don’t be shy!
- Chop onions into nickel-sized pieces.
- Heat olive oil and most of the butter in a wide, heavy-bottomed pot.
- Add onions, stir to coat.
- Lower heat to medium.
- Cook onions until caramelized, stirring occasionally for 10 to 35 minutes!
- Peel, seed, and chop winter squash into chunks.
- Peel and chop yams into quarters.
- Add squash and yams to caramelized onions.
- Stir to coat squash and yams in those gorgeous onions.
- Add spices, including Sriracha and optional red chili paste, and stir.
- Add Tamari, beer, and water. (I guess, drink the remaining beer.)
- Cook covered until squash are very soft.
- Puree with immersion blender, food processor, laundry spin cycle? Use whatcha got!
- Add coconut milk and coconut cream.
- Add Tamari and/or salt to taste.
- Add a hunk of remaining Miyoko’s butter.
- If soup is too watery, cook uncovered for a while.
- If soup is too thick, add a can of coconut milk or water—a bit at a time.
- Serve with chili/lime toasted squash seeds and enjoy.
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