Cream of Butternut Squash Soup

We went out to a birthday dinner with my mom at Cosi Cocina’s and had a delicious butternut squash soup.  This soup is my version or interpretation of that soup.  It is a perfect fall flavor soup with the heartiness to make it a  meal.  It is vegetarian and even could be made vegan with a simple swap of the dairy for a non-dairy milk.  I would opt for a coconut milk or coconut creamer, for the best flavor and consistency.  To really cut corners, and make a fast meal, one could easily use a can of cream of potato soup instead of the potatoes and the dairy.

We hosted a belated party for my mom on Saturday night at our house.  We were expecting 17 people total, so I doubled the recipe to make 2 crock pots of this soup.  It paired perfectly with dinner rolls and we even had a little left over.

 The soup’s vegetables are potatoes, onion, garlic, butternut squash, and celery.  Did you know that you can use the base of a celery bunch as a stamp to create flower designs?  I am going to attempt this craft with Greta’s help.  I will show you the results, promise.

One roasted butternut squash plus a can of pureed butternut squash creates the base flavor for this soup.   After roasting the squash allow it to cool, then create cross hatched lines with a knife and scoop out squash flesh with a spoon.  

We had a very full house.  My mom is at the head of the table here, enjoying her milestone birthday  I asked people to bring haiku poems to share with my mother in honor of her birthday.  We collected them in a blank book.  My directions were not entirely clear and everyone thought they had to write the poems themselves.  Whoops!  She is holding a beautiful quilt made by a friend, Fern.  The quilt’s pattern followed a haiku structure – 5 blocks, 7 blocks, and 5 blocks.

All I can say is thank goodness for friends, family, good food, good times, and folding tables!

Cream of Butternut Squash Soup – one very full slow cooker

1. Cut 1 butternut squash in half.  Remove seeds and roast at 350 degrees for 35 – 40 minutes or until soft.  Allow to cool.  Cut cross hatched lines into squash, remove flesh with spoon.  

2. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, saute, 1/2 yellow onion, diced until soft.  Add 2 minced cloves of garlic, saute another 2 minutes.  Put onion mixture into slow cooker.  Add 6 cups of vegetable broth.  Turn slow cooker on high.  

3.  Peel and dice 3 large baking potatoes.  Add to slow cooker.  Add 6 sliced stalks of celery to slow cooker.  Mix in 1 can of butternut squash puree.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Put lid on slow cooker and cook on high for 4 – 5 hours or low for 6 – 7 hours, or until potatoes are soft and tender.  

4.  Once potatoes are cooked, add butternut squash chunks from 1/2 of the roasted butternut squash. Add 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon and 2 tablespoons maple syrup, stir.  

5.  In the last 5 minutes before serving, stir in 2 cups cream, half-and-half, or coconut creamer and 1 tablespoon tomato paste.  

Chick Pea Potato Soup

I made this soup on Friday to bring to a work gathering – I love it because it is simple, hearty, and easy to make.  I ended up adding quite a bit of curry to the leftovers, after the party.  This recipe makes a very large batch, so if you want less, cut this recipe in half. 
Combine in a slow cooker: 4 stalks of diced celery; 3 large potatoes, peeled and cubed; 1-1/2 cups chick peas (canned or soaked overnight); 1-28 oz can of crushed tomatoes, and 28 oz of water.  Stir well, add more water, if it is needed to cover all the vegetables. 

Add 1 packet of Sukhi’s Gobi Aloo Complete Spice Mix.  Actually, I think a second packet would have made this taste even better. 

Cover and cook on low for 7 – 8 hours.  
I love how thick this soup is – the crushed tomatoes worked perfectly.  
On a side note: Greta saw her breath for the first time this year.  She was amazed at the small clouds she and Eric were able to make.  It was so cute to watch her try and catch the clouds of her and Eric’s breath.  She smiled and smiled.  Luckily, I just happened to have my camera ready on the way to work and was able to snap a couple of these photos.  
Chick Pea Potato Soup
1. Combine in a slow cooker: 4 stalks of diced celery3 large potatoes, peeled and cubed; 1-1/2 cups chick peas (canned or soaked overnight); 1-28 oz can of crushed tomatoes, and 28 oz of water.  Stir well, add more water, if it is needed to cover all the vegetables. 
2. Add 1 packet of Sukhi’s Gobi Aloo Complete Spice Mix
3. Cover and cook on low for 7 – 8 hours.  

Curried Butternut Squash Soup

We have been loving the slow cooker at our house lately – it may run out of power at the rate we are using it.  This next soup recipe is so good it will have you slurping it down like this.  Eric told me several times that this was a good soup, which for a man of few rants and raves, this is big!
Speaking of loving the soup, have you seen the Andy Warhol limited edition soups at Target?!  Of course I bought all 4. 
Ok, so back to my soup recipe.  I started by dicing mushrooms, both shiitake and brown bellas.  I love the shiitake mushroom – it’s delicate lacy underside, it’s flavor, and around here, it’s delicacy due to prices.  

This is the normal mushroom in our dishes.  

Next, peel and cube a butternut squash.  

I cannot get enough butternut squash.  It’s flavor lends itself so well to soups.  Boil the butternut squash on the stovetop in 15 oz of broth for 30 minutes or until soft.  Or, place the broth and squash in a 4 to 5 quart slow cooker and cook 8 to 10 hours on low or 4 to 5 hours on high.  

When the squash is cooked, blend until smooth.  Allow the squash to cool before blending, if you do not have an immersion blender, otherwise you are likely to burn yourself on hot soup spraying out through the lid.  I admit though, the Baby Bullet did a fine job preventing burns.  Another reason to have one of these gadgets around the house.  

Add 2 to 3 tablespoons red curry paste and and 1 cup milk, stir until combined.  I use almond milk in place of milk in all my recipes.  

Mix in the diced mushrooms.  

Add 2 cups diced celery.  

Slice one package of extra firm tofu.  
I tried this new variety for this recipe – it did not disappoint.  The tofu held firm through the entire duration of the soup’s cooking time. 

Cook in slow cooker on low for 5 to 6 hours.

Curried Butternut Squash Soup
1. Cut and peel 4 pounds of butternut squash.  Combine with 15 oz of vegetable broth.  Boil on stovetop for 30 minutes, or til softened.  Or, cook in slow cooker for 8 to 10 hours on low or 4 to 5 hours on high.  
2.  Blend cooked squash in batches until smooth.  Place pureed squash into slow cooker.  Stir in 1 cup of almond milk and 2 to 3 tablespoons of red curry paste
3. Mix in 2 cups diced assorted mushrooms and 2 cups diced celery.  Drain and slice into strips, one package of extra firm tofu, add to the slow cooker.  
Soup will thicken after storage, so you may want to add a little extra water or milk when eating leftovers, if there are any, that is.  

Apple Pie Oatmeal

Slow cooked oatmeal is one of my new favorite things.  This time I made Apple Pie Oatmeal.  I swear this is the best oatmeal I’ve ever tasted.  
The best part?
It reheats perfectly!  So when you make a big batch, store some away in the fridge or freezer for a simple, quick week day breakfast.
The magic flavors for this fabulous oatmeal. 
Who needs a fancy slow cooker with a built-in timer when you have one of these bad boys?
Apple Pie Oatmeal
1.  In a 4 to 5 quart slow cooker, mix 1/3 cup millet, 1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons steel cut oats, and 2-1/4 cups water.  

2.  Add to the slow cooker, 1 cubed Granny Smith apple.  Peel, if desired.  
3.  Add 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon, 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg1/4 teaspoon ground cloves1 tablespoon honey, and 1/3 cup dried cranberries.  Mix well.  
4.  Cook on low for 6 to 7 hours.  Serves 4.  

Slow Cooked Pear Oatmeal

This is an easy breakfast that is sure to get you out the door a little more quickly in the mornings.  Just prep the night before, set on low, and you have hot filling breakfast in the morning.  The smell alone will get you out of bed!
1. Start with 2/3 steel cut oats and 1/3 cup millet, put them in a 4 to 5 quart slow cooker.  
Steel cut oats are a wonderful breakfast food – they have a great chewy texture and are heartier than the rolled oats which are just oats steamrolled flat.  Millet is a seed, and available in white, gray, yellow, and red.  This seed is a good source of manganese, phosphorus, and magnesium.  
2. Add 1-1/2 cups water and 1-1/2 cups almond milk.  Stir.  
3. Peel and dice 2 small ripe pears.  Combine in slow cooker with 1 teaspoon cinnamon, 1 teaspoon vanilla, 1/3 cup raisins, and 1 teaspoon honey.   
4. Cook on low for 6 to 7 hours.  
Enjoy warm!  Caution, if this is cooked too long or on high, the bottom portion of your oatmeal will scald to the bottom of the pot.  If this does happen, don’t toss your oatmeal, just skim off the top sections without breaking through to the bottom.  Breaking through to the scalded section will leave you with a burning taste in your oatmeal. 
Mommy’s Medley Slow Cooked Pear Oatmeal – makes about 3 servings
1. Start with 2/3 steel cut oats and 1/3 cup millet, put them in a 4 to 5 quart slow cooker.  
2. Add 1-1/2 cups water and 1-1/2 cups almond milk.  Stir. 
3. Peel and dice 2 small ripe pears.  Combine in slow cooker with 1 teaspoon cinnamon1 teaspoon vanilla1/3 cup raisins, and 1 teaspoon honey.   
4. Cook on low for 6 to 7 hours.  

Vegetable Coconut Curry with Rice

Here comes another week-day, school-night friendly slow cooker recipe in the form of Vegetable Coconut Curry with Jasmine rice.  
Again, while perusing the Skinny Slow Cooker publication from Better Homes & Gardens, I adapted a recipe that is a perfect Indian flavors meal for our family. 

This thing has seen a few meals, can you tell?

I recommend using dried beans whenever possible, they are cheaper and just as easy as canned beans.  The only catch is planning ahead – you must plan for soak time.  Soak your chick peas overnight before cooking, and then use as you would canned beans.  
Combine 2 cups water and vegetable bullion in a slow cooker.  Set to low heat.  

Combine with the water:  4 teaspoons curry, 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper, 3 cloves of minced garlic, 1 tablespoon fresh grated turmeric, and 1 tablespoon fresh grated ginger. 
 I love my zester – it works perfectly even on my frozen ginger and turmeric.  I buy these two as fresh roots and freeze them until it’s time to grate what I need for recipes.  I find the fresh stuff is more intense in flavor.  

Add to the liquid approximately 5 cups of vegetables.  I used cubed red potatoes, cubed sweet potatoes, yellow onion wedges, a diced banana pepper, 

and a whole head of cauliflower.  I changed my mind and decided not to use the green pepper at the last minute.  

Put lid on slow cooker and cook on low for 6 to 7 hours or on high for 3-1/2 to 4 hours.  

After cooking, add a can of unsweetened light coconut milk and mix well.  Mix in 1/4 cup golden raisins and serve with Jasmine rice and a dollop of plain yogurt.  

Greta was a huge fan of this dish!

Vegetable Curry Slow Cooker
1. In a 4 to 5 quart slow cooker, combine 2 cups water (or broth), bouillon4 teaspoons curry, 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper, 3 cloves of minced garlic, 1 tablespoon fresh grated turmeric, and 1 tablespoon fresh grated ginger.

2.  Add to the liquid, 5 cups assorted cut, chopped, diced, cubed, or wedged vegetables, such as sweet potatoes, cauliflower florets, onions, red or green bell peppers, red potatoes, Yukon gold potatoes, or squash.  Add 1 cup of chickpeas (garbanzo beans), soaked or canned. 
3.  Put lid on slow cooker and cook on low for 6 to 7 hours or on high for 3-1/2 to 4 hours.  
4.  After cooking and veggies are soft, add a can of unsweetened light coconut milk and mix well.  Mix in 1/4 cup golden raisins and serve with Jasmine rice and a dollop of plain yogurt.  

Goodwill find of the week plus easy weeknight dinner

We swung by Goodwill this afternoon after work.  We had planned to go for a walk due to our awesome crock pot planning yesterday afternoon, however the rainy weather had other plans for us.  So Goodwill it was.  I perused through the kids’ section and on the way out,  up on a rack above some women’s blouses, I spied this lone shoe.

I grabbed it as fast as I could, looking frantically for its pair.  Eric, my voice of reason, said, “I’m sure they have the mate in the back.”  Sure enough.

So, with a few baby clothing items, a pair of Coach Espadrilles, and a pair of men’s Polo jeans we were only out $30.  Not a bad afternoon of thrift picking.

Dinner was easy, tasty, vegetarian, and ready!  The curry was weak, but Greta was able to eat this meal no problem, so it was nice of us to keep it on the mild side for her sake.

 Curried Vegetables & Rice

3 medium potatoes, cut into 1/2-inch chunks (3 cups)
4 medium carrots, cut into 1/4-inch slices (2 cups)
1 large red onion, cut into strips (1 cup)
1-1/4 cups apple juice
2 tablespoons quick-cooking tapioca
2 teaspoons curry powder
1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamon
1 cup uncooked regular brown rice
1  12.3 oz package extra-firm tofu, drained and cut into 3/4-inch cubes
1 medium zucchini, halved lengthwise and cut into 1/2-inch slices
1 cup frozen peas
1/3 cup golden raisins

1. In a 4-quart slow-cooker combine potatoes, carrots, red onion, apple juice, tapioca, curry powder, ginger, salt, and cardamon.

2.  Cove; cook on low-heat setting for 8 to 10 hours or on high heat setting for 4 to 5 hours.

3.  Cook rice according to package directions.  We put the rice into the slow cooker and added 1-1/2 water with the veggies to make this a one-pot meal.  This worked really well!

4.  If using low-heat setting, turn to high-heat setting.  Add tofu, zucchini, peas, and raisins to cooker.  Cover and cook for 30 minutes more.  Serve with chutney.

From Better Homes and Gardens Biggest Book of Slow Cooker Recipes, 2002.