Most of what I cook at home and for here is determined by what I find at the farm stands and famers market. I try to buy all of my produce there, and fill in the other pantry staples at whole foods or the hippy yoga grocery store across the street from my apartment. I do realize that this is a tremendous luxury, one that not many people get to do, and one that I certainly do not take for granted.
One of the biggest things that I have learned to appreciate about shopping at farmers market all year round is that I have grown a serious appreciation for what is in season and exactly when it is in season. Oh, and the fact that I can find unique, cute little veggies like these baby butternuts, or a whole stalk of brussels sprouts is a big bonus too. A few years ago, before I was primarily shopping at farmers markets, I would have told you that a tomato was a year-round fruit, or that there was some magical, local avocado and banana greenhouse/farm place that produces loads and loads of avocados and bananas ALL YEAR LONG! Well, I never ever see avocados or bananas at my farmers market so that theory was sadly demolished. I still sneak over to the grocery store every now and then to pick up some of those out of season treats that I would be sad to live without. I wish I could say I lived hyper-local and hyper-seasonal all the time, but ..... this girl needs her bananas and avocados. However, you will never catch me buying a tomato out of season. That's where I draw the line.
When you shop at the farmers market, you also become in-tune with what must be going on back at the farm. How different weather patterns effect what you see at the market each week. If you have a warm spring, you might see tomatoes earlier ....... a long and cold winter might mean that my beloved spring veggies are delayed. Right now, I am really enjoying this unseasonbly warm fall. Not only do I get to walk to the farmers market in a t-shirt and no jacket (which is unheard of for this time of year), but the market still has an abundance of those early fall veggies and some fun extra treats like these babes right here.
In speaking about the seasons, we need to speak about SOUP. Soup is one of those meals that carries through each season, but the type of soup I like to make is highly dictated by whats in season, what I find at the market, and the method I will use to cook the soup. Warming stews in the winter, lighter soups in the spring, gazpacho in the summer, and lots of squashy-type soups in the fall.
Soup is one of the best meals ever because it can be totally humble and simple, or fancy and sophiscated. It can be a snack, or an entire meal. It's the kind of thing you can throw together in 30 minutes on a busy weeknight, or spend hours and hours stewing. You can eat it in pajamas on your couch while watching sex in the city re-runs, or you can serve it in fancy bowls at a dinner party. Personally, no matter what the occasion, I tend to lean towards soups that highlight a main ingredient, with just a few other add-ins to make that one ingredient really shine. And texture. Let's not forget about texture. I am a firm believer that all soups need contrast in texture, and toppings, in order to make it feel more like a complete dish or meal.
This miso butternut squash soup can be both a couch potato dinner, and dressed up dinner party appetizer. The flavors are complex, but there are still very few ingredients. And, the crunchy quinoa, which can be made days in advance or in large batches, takes this soup (or anything you want to sprinkle it on) to a whole new level.
ginger miso butternut squash soup + crunchy quinoa
SERVES about 4
for the crunchy quinoa:
1/2 cup of quinoa
1 glove of garlic, thinly sliced
about 1 teaspoon of minced ginger
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1 cup of water
for the soup:
about 3lbs of butternut squash, cut in half and seeds removed
a drizzle of olive oil
salt + pepper
4 tablespoons of chickpea miso (or mellow white miso)
4 cups of filterer water
1 tablespoon of ghee (or coconut oil, or a neutral oil, if you prefer .... cooking oil choice will slightly effect the taste of the soup)
1 yellow onion, sliced
1 teaspoon of ginger, minced
3 cloves of garlic, minced
2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar
red pepper flakes (optional)
optional additional topping for the soup: microgreens, gomascio
Roast the butternut squash and dissolve the miso:
- Pre-heat the oven to 425º
- Place the squash onto a baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast the squash for 25-30 minutes, until tender.
- Remove and cool until you're able to handle the squash, and then using a spoon, scoop the flesh from the skin. Discard skins, or save them to make vegetable broth.
- Dissolve the miso into 2 cups of the filtered water, and set aside while the squash is cooking.
Prepare the crispy quinoa (you can also do this up to a couple of days in advance):
- Place all of the ingredients for the quinoa into a small saucepan, bring to a boil, cover, and reduce to a simmer. Cook for 20 minutes, until all of the water is absorbed. Once the quinoa is done cooking, spread it out on a baking sheet to cool down.
- Once the quinoa has cooled, you're going to toast it in a large cast iron by spreading it out into a single layer in the pan over medium heat. Let it sit, undisturbed, until you hear it sizzle and pop. Then give it a stir and spread it out into a single layer again. Keep doing this until your quinoa is browning and toasted, for about 5-10 minutes. Set aside until you're ready to serve the soup (or store in an air-tight container if you've made this in advance).
Make the soup and serve:
- Heat the ghee (or oil) In a large, heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat. Add the onions and cook for about 10 minutes until soft and just starting to brown. Add the ginger and garlic and cook for two minutes, just enough to release their flavor.
- Add the apple cider vinegar, and deglaze (cook for a minute or two until it's dissolved).
- Add the squash flesh, stir to coat it with the ginger onion mixture. Then add the dissolved miso and water as well as the remaining two cups of filtered water. Give it a good stir, and allow the mixture to simmer over medium-low heat (do not bring to a boil), and cook for about 10-15 minutes to allow the flavors to develop. Remove from the heat.
- Puree the soup. I like to only puree half because I like to leave a little texture, but you can puree it all if you prefer a really smooth soup. Place the desire amount you want to puree into a blender (be careful, it will be very hot!), and then blend until smooth. Add it back to the remaining soup in the pot and stir.
- Serve and assemble the soup by ladling the soup into individual bowls, and adding the crunchy quinoa and additional toppings on top.