Add Heat to Cool Days with Soup

Cold and rainy days call for soup. As a kid that meant the kind with the red and white label, preferably served with a grilled cheese sandwich.

My brother Kevin liked tomato. I was a chicken noodle or chicken and stars girl. My father, as we got older, made soup for Sunday night dinners. He would slave over a perfect French onion or a Manhattan (tomato-based) clam chowder. It was an all-day affair that typically involved making the stock and then the soup. Which is great if you have the time because the taste can’t be topped. French onion soup out of a can or an envelope just isn’t real – even if you do try to put the lovely cheesy crouton on top, which is doing nothing more than hiding a bowl of sodium pretending to be flavor.

I will get off my stockpot now. Sometimes you have neither the time nor inclination to spend all day making soup. In that case, this Thai Coconut Squash/Sweet Potato Soup is for you. I made it with a roasted sweet potato and acorn squash. You can do canned pumpkin (not pie mix), roasted butternut squash, or all roasted sweet potato.

I started by cutting an acorn squash in half, removing the seeds, and placing it in a nonstick roasting pan along with a large sweet potato, pierced, and placing it in a 350-degree oven for 45 minutes. If you are making sweet potatoes or squash for another dish, just throw a couple of extras in so you have leftovers to make this soup.

The soup requires no broth, just water. You will need a can of coconut milk – I prefer the full fat kind. The Thai red curry paste is essential. You can find the paste in the Asian food aisle at most supermarkets. I started with just 1 1/2 tablespoons, but eventually added another tablespoon. Err on the side of less because you can always add more.

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Thai Coconut Squash/Sweet Potato Soup
Course soup
Cuisine American, Asian
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Servings
Ingredients
Course soup
Cuisine American, Asian
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Servings
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees. In a nonstick roasting pan, place large sweet potato and halved acorn squash, cut side down. Roast for 45 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool.
  2. In the same baking pan, deglaze any drippings from the squash with about 1/2 cup of water over medium heat until almost evaporated. If the drippings are too burned to be tasty, skip this and just rinse the pan out and go to the next step.
  3. Add coconut oil to the pan or a large saucepan over medium heat. When melted, add the onions and cook until soft and tender, about 7 minutes. Add garlic and ginger and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add Thai curry paste and stir in until totally incorporated (about 30 seconds).
  4. Scoop out sweet potato and squash into the onion mixture and mash together (use a potato masher if you need to). This will be thick. Add 1 quart of water and stir to combine. If really thick (like mashed potatoes thick), then add remaining water. If the mixture is still very thick (this will depend on the size of your potato and squash), then add more water about 1/2 cup at a time. Bring the mixture to a simmer.
  5. Remove from heat. Stir in coconut milk and lime juice. Use an immersion blender, or, work in batches in a blender, to puree the soup until smooth. Garnish with coconut flakes.
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Bounty of Community Garden: More Zucchini (with chocolate)

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I’ve been a sucker for vegetable gardens since my father tilled a spot at our home in Erie. He carefully plotted out the garden on graph paper – tomatoes here, lettuce there and zucchini (eventually everywhere). He fenced it in to keep out the critters, which did find their way into our suburban veggie patch. I have memories of my mother telling my father that he wasn’t allowed to shoot groundhogs in Millcreek (Pennsylvania).

At the time I wasn’t particularly fond the garden. It involved weeding, watering and eating vegetables. We weren’t careful tenders to the zucchini, which eventually came to be the size if cricket bats if we weren’t mindful.

When I moved to the Midwest, I realized that farmstands with fresh tomatoes, peaches and corn weren’t the norm. So I started container gardening tomatoes. One year, I moved mid-summer, and packed the tomatoes in the back of my two-seater convertible for the ride across town to their new patio.

Until this summer, I kept my gardening to myself. I’d share the abundance of tomatoes and squash with friends and neighbors, but my home-grown gardening stills were limited to my home. This summer I have a much more flexible schedule, and so I started volunteering with the Sisters of Saint Joseph Neighborhood Network’s community garden at 22nd and Parade streets, Erie, Pennsylvania. My responsibilities included cleaning up, weeding, planting and watering. I’m on hand once a week to help the neighbors who have raised beds with any questions. This past week, I helped while the workers at PRI Community, an affiliate of Provider Resources Inc., weeded, cleaned, and planted the plot. PRI Community provided the services to the SSJ NN at no charge. The PRI workers were paid and learning skills in the process. With their help, we were able to plant more than 300 lilies along the border, weed the beds, mow, and trim in less than 4 hours.

This allowed me to get into the shared beds and harvest some squash that were hidden among the gigantic leaves. A recent post by TwoPeasandtheirPod provided just the right recipe to test.

Print Recipe
Bounty of a Community Garden: More Zucchini
Course dessert
Cuisine American
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Servings
9x13 cake
Ingredients
Cake
Frosting
Course dessert
Cuisine American
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Servings
9x13 cake
Ingredients
Cake
Frosting
Instructions
  1. Heat oven to 325 degrees. Grease a 9x13-inch pan.
  2. To make the cake, whisk together flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, cream butter, coconut oil and sugar with an electric mixer or in a stand mixer. Add vanilla and eggs and beat to just combine. Stir in yogurt.
  3. Add dry ingredients to wet. I prefer to mix this by hand. Stir until there are no dry lumps.
  4. Stir in zucchini, coconut and chocolate chips.
  5. Pour batter into greased pan. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes, or until cake tester comes out clean. Remove from oven and allow to cool.
  6. To make the frosting, beat butter and powdered sugar until light and creamy. Add a pinch of salt and vanilla. Beat until combined. Spread on top of cooled cake and top with toasted coconut.
Recipe Notes

This recipe is from TwoPeasand theirPod.

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