Winter Squash, Sweet Potato and Ginger Soup with Collards and Thyme-Sage Croutons

8 Jan
Oh, Frankensquash, there will never be another like you!

Back in September I was given a nameless, misshapen organic squash that I’ve since named my “Frankensquash.” I’d never cooked with squash, but I’ve always liked it. I was reluctant to use the squash until recently because I had no idea what to do with it and I thought that whatever I came up with  would be time consuming and difficult. But my stomach soon took over as I’m a big fan of squash. And an even bigger fan of squash soups. And an even bigger fan of collard greens. And you guessed it, an even bigger fan of ginger. I was lucky enough to have nothing much on hand but all three of these on a very cold night and came up with this easy, spicy, soothing, and filling soup! I also had some ciabatta bread lying around that was a few days old and perfect for croutons.

This soup pleases everybody. Make this for your sick loved ones, make it for a hungry winter guest, make it for yourself!

Do they have crouton eaters anonymous meetings somewhere?

Just make sure you taste it as you go, making sure the ginger flavor is to your liking. A lot of ginger is never a bad thing, but it can make your soup too spicy and nearly inedible if you add too much, and too little ginger is no fun at all!

Also, beware the croutons! They are delicious for snacking and highly addictive! Don’t eat them all before you put them in the soup!

I would certainly serve this to my hungry prairie guests!

Ingredients:

For the soup:
2 tbsp olive oil, plush more for brushing
1 winter squash (butternut or acorn will do), halved
1 small sweet potato, peeled and cut for roasting
1 large carrot, peeled and cut into 1 inch circular pieces
1/2 of a small yellow onion, diced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 stem of a small piece of ginger root, peeled and very finely grated or chopped *(see note above)
3 and 1/2 cup of vegetable broth, more as needed
2 collard green leaves, de-stemed and chopped into small squares
salt, to taste
freshly ground black pepper, to taste

For the croutons:
24 – 1/4 inch thick ciabatta bread slices (any baguette will do, a few days old is preferred)
1 tbsp Earth Balance Buttery Spread
1 tsp ground sage
1 tsp dried thyme leaf, crushed
1 tbsp Daiya Cheddar Style Shreds (optional)
salt, to taste

Directions: 
Preheat the oven to 350 F.

Cut open the squash and clean out the seeds and flesh (don’t throw them out, save them for roasting and snacking on later!). Brush the inside and the edges of the cut squash with olive oil and lay cut side down on the baking sheet. Brush the sweet potato and carrot with olive oil and place them on the baking sheet as well. Bake for 45 minutes. While this is baking, prepare the other components of the soup.

In a food processor or blender, process the ginger root until very finely chopped. You don’t want any big chunks. Set aside.

Heat the oil in a non-stick pan on medium-high and saute the onion and garlic until tender and fragrant, about 5 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste. Add this to the ginger in the food processor and pulse until very finely chopped.

Once your roasted veggies are done, remove them from the oven and set them aside to cool for at least 10 minutes. When ready, scoop out the squash with a spoon and add it, the carrot, and sweet potato to the food processor and blend until you’ve got a very uniform and orange puree.

In a medium sauce pan, combine the vegetable broth and the puree until a soup-like, but still thick consistency appears. Bring the soup to a boil and then simmer it on low for a few minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the collards and stir while the soup is simmering. Cover it for about 3 minutes (giving the collards enough time to become soft), ladle into bowls and serve hot with croutons on top!

For the croutons:
Preheat the broiler. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Spread a small amount of the Earth Balance Buttery Spread on one side of each of the pieces of bread. Spread the bread pieces, buttered side up on the baking sheet in one layer. Broil for 1 minute (just 1 minute!). Remove them after 1 minute and turn them over. Sprinkle the vegan cheese (if using) then the sage, thyme, and salt over them. Return them to the broiler and broil until the cheese melts, about 1 more minute. Serve on top of soup!

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