Autumnal Vegetable Soup

Exercise and I go way back.  We’re like the friends I had in elementary school.  You know, hanging out everyday for the summer (because we’re neighbors), then pretending we don’t even know each other during the year.  Or like in high school, when we hung out way to much and our relationship exploded with a hip fracture.

I can always rekindle my bond with exercise.  As I’ve gotten older, I’ve begun to treat my friendships with great care.  I have to take my friends on dates.  We have to pencil each other in.  I have to pay the bill.

Unless my workouts are blocked into my calendar, we probably won’t hang out.  I’m too cheap to pay for the gym.  Exercise is pretty reluctant to get back into my life right now.

But I did 60 squats the other day.  And stretched for half an hour.  I still won’t buy a gym membership, but as soon as I create a workout calendar, we’ll be biffles once again.  I hope.

It might go without saying, but working out won’t work out unless I’ve got the diet to go along with it.  Aside from the occasional cobbler, cookie, and cake, my diet is outrageously healthy.  Whole wheats.  Ryes.  Teas.  Beets.  Sweet potatoes.  Greens, greens, greens.

And sometimes the-pumpkin-I-carved-into-an-owl-turned-vegetable-soup.

Demolished.  Is it weird that I just pulled the pumpkin from its outdoor refrigerator, chopped it up, and threw it in a soup?  Am I going to get botulism?

To be perfectly honest, there was little to no measuring for this soup.  I also don’t really remember what I threw in.  I hope that doesn’t make you nervous.

Autumnal Vegetable Soup.

1 1/2 cups dry white beans
6 cups of water
1lb pumpkin meat, cubed
bunch of beet greens, chopped into 1in pieces
3 celery stalks, chopped into 1in pieces
5 medium carrots, chopped into 1in pieces
4 cloves of garlic, minced
4 vegetable bouillon cubes
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon chili pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon ground mustard seed
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
pinch of ground sage
pepper, to taste

Soak the beans in water in a large pot overnight, or at least 8 hours.  Once soaked, drain the water and replenish with another 6 cups.  Bring the water to a boil and add the bouillon cubes.  Reduce to a simmer and cook for about 45 minutes, until the beans are al dente (slightly firm).  Add the spices, garlic, celery, and pumpkin and cook for 20 minutes, until the pumpkin is soft.  Turn off the heat and add the beet greens (just to blanch).

Wait for it to rain and it’ll warm at least 8 pairs of cold hands.  And fill as many bellies.

Butternut Squash Soup

Let me tell you a little something about seasons in Hawaii:

We don’t have any.

So when the temperature in Boston drops below, say, 75 degrees fahrenheit, I’m wearing long sleeves and bringing out the quilts.  If I can see my breath, it’s time for wool socks.

Yeah, all right, whatever, it’s barely September and the air is balmy and cicadas are still chirping into the late afternoon.  The point is, I made butternut squash soup for the first time and learned that, hot damn, butternut squash is DELICIOUS on its own (boiled and lightly salted, of course).

A friend handed over a bunch of vegetables from his garden before mah man and I headed out here, one of them being this massive squash.  It oozed clear liquid that I hoped and prayed wasn’t sap.  I’m pretty sure it was just excess water. . .maybe.

The super nice thing about this recipe is that the seeds and filling are put to good use.  My new apartment has composting, but still, I wanted that filling to be part of the fun.

Butternut Squash Soup.

1 large butternut squash, peeled, chopped into cubes, with seeds and filling separated and set aside
1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
6 cups water, plus 6 more to boil the squash
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 tablespoon honey
dash of nutmeg

Heat the butter in a large pot or dutch oven on medium heat until it’s just started to sizzle.  Add the onions and saute until translucent.  Add the seed/filling mixture and saute until the butter is a nice shade of orange.  Add water and salt and set to a low simmer.  Keep the lid off so the liquid steams and reduces for about 30 minutes.

As the soup base simmers, boil the other 6 cups of water in another pot and add the squash, letting it cook until just turned soft, about 7 minutes.  Drain water and set aside.

Once the base has reduced (should be about 3 cups of liquid left), strain it into another pot.  Now you can chuck out the filling and onions.

Stick the softened butternut squash into a food processor with a good amount of the base and puree until smooth and creamy.  Add this mixture along with the cream to the rest of the soup base and let it warm up for 5 minutes.  Throw in a dash of nutmeg.

Serves about six people.  Or one plus leftovers for a week.