Butternut Squash Soup with Thyme and Rosemary

Butternut Squash Soup with Thyme and Rosemary

Mains & Sides Recipe

As we transition into fall, it can be helpful to pause and reflect on the busyness and outward movement of the summer and prepare to turn inwards and find comfort as we prepare for the winter. A comforting soup made from this season of harvest, along with herbs that remind us of the fall and winter seasons can be just what the mind and body needs. And, one can never have too many butternut squash recipes.

  • 2 Tbs olive oil
  • 1Tbs unsalted butter
  • 1 large butternut squash
  • 1 small to medium onion, chopped
  • 1 stalk celery, roughly chopped
  • 1 carrot, roughly chopped
  • 1 Tbs fresh thyme
  • 2 pinches dried rosemary or ¾ tsp fresh rosemary, chopped
  • 5 cups vegetable or chicken stock
  • ½ tsp Aleppo pepper (optional)
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.  Puncture the butternut squash a few times and place on a baking sheet. Roast until squash is fork tender, about 60 minutes.

Once the butternut squash is done, cut it in half and allow it to cool until it can be safely handled. Remove and discard the seeds. Scoop out the flesh from the skin.

In a large pot, heat oil and butter until butter begins to froth. Sauté onion, celery, carrot and thyme until onion has softened.  Add the rosemary and cook for 30 seconds or until fragrant. Add the squash, stock and Aleppo if using, stir, bring to a boil and simmer for 20-30 minutes. Purée mixture to desired texture with a hand blender. Salt and pepper to taste and warm the soup until ready to serve.

Garnish with fresh thyme.

Serves 6-8.

Late Summer Wakame and Greens

Late Summer Wakame and Greens

Mains & Sides Recipe

This is side dish that is healing and simple. Wakame has a very cooling thermal nature and moistens dryness, which is ideal for the transition from late summer into autumn. It’s a diuretic and also one of the seaweeds highest in calcium (hijaki is the first) and is said to promote healthy hair and skin. Here I combined it with amaranth greens, which is in season from summer to mid-fall. The leaves are similar to that of spinach, and the stems are a little thicker which I chopped in ½” pieces. Amaranth greens have a deep flavor and are hearty yet tender. The overall flavor is slightly salty, sweet with a touch of pungency. If amaranth greens aren’t available, you can make this dish with any greens you choose. Kale is an accessible go-to green. This serves as a side dish or is great integrated in a soup, with rice and/or lentils, or in Asian noodle dish.  I added soy sauce to it and paired it with chow mein for dinner and the following day tossed it into a soup for lunch.

  • 4 cup wakame, soaked, drained & chopped
  • 2 tsp avocado or sesame oil
  • 3 cloves of garlic, pressed
  • 1 large bunch of greens (about 12 oz) chopped
  • 2 tsp avocado or sesame oil
  • 2 pinches of sea salt
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon
  • ¼ cup stock or water, as needed

In a sauté pan, heat oil on medium heat. Sauté wakame 10 to15 minutes, adding a little water as needed. Add garlic and sauté for 30 seconds or until fragrant, then add greens, salt and lemon. Stir greens until they begin to wilt, reduce heat, cover and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes or until greens are tender. Add water or stock as needed.

Serves 6-8.

Cauliflower and Cashew Soup

Cauliflower and Cashew Soup

Mains & Sides Recipe

This vibrant, warm and sweet soup reminds me of the Autumn season, but I’d happily feast on it all winter though spring. It’s easy to make and really yummy. In my recipe I used some of Elemental Alchemy’s Spiced Golden Milk, which contains turmeric, cardamom, ginger, nutmeg and more. You can also substitute it for more turmeric to start and add a dash of any of those flavors you enjoy.

  • 3 Tbs olive oil
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 head of cauliflower, roughly chopped
  • 1 cup raw cashews
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 ½ tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp Spiced Golden Milk or 1 additional tsp turmeric
  • 6 cups vegetable or chicken stock
  • Juice from ½ lime
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Cilantro

In a large pot, heat olive oil and sauté onions until they start to slightly soften. Add garlic and sauté for 1 minute. Add cauliflower, cashews and salt, stir and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, and then stir in 2 ½ tsp or a combination of turmeric and Spiced Golden Milk. Cook an additional minute. Add stock. Once mixture boils, bring to a simmer and cook until cauliflower and nuts soften, about 15-20 minutes. Remove from heat and blend soup well with an immersion blend or transfer to a blender. Add lime and salt and pepper to taste. Garnish with cilantro.

Serves 6-8

Spiced Carrot Soup with Pistachios and Rosemary

Spiced Carrot Soup with Pistachios and Rosemary

Mains & Sides Recipe

Great for a windy and rainy day, this comforting soup warms the body. Seasoned with harissa, a blend of pepper, caraway, coriander and cumin, enhance the flavor of the soup, while the pistachios and rosemary add a little texture and color.

  • 2 Tbs olive oil, divided
  • 2 lbs carrots, peeled and diced
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 cups vegetable or chicken stock
  • 4 Tbs unsalted butter
  • 2-3 tsp harissa paste*
  • 1 ½ tsp salt
  • 2 Tbs rosemary, chopped
  • ½ cup raw pistachios

Lightly sauté carrots in 1 Tbs of olive oil. Add water and stock and bring to a boil. Remove from heat. Add butter and harissa and blend well using an immersion blender or transfer to a blender. Add salt to taste. Return to low heat until ready to serve. In a separate pan, heat remaining olive oil on medium heat. Sauté rosemary until it sizzles, then add pistachios and cook until they just start to lightly brown. Remove from heat.  Top soup with pistachios and rosemary.

*Harissa Paste

You can buy harissa paste already made or make it yourself with red peppers or dried chiles. I use a dry (mild heat) blend that’s made with guajillo peppers, caraway, coriander, sweet and smoked paprika, cumin, cinnamon and salt. If using a dry blend, whisk together 3 Tbs of the spice with 3 Tbs of olive oil, 1-2 minced garlic cloves and the juice of one lemon. Let sit for an hour before using and store in an airtight container. It keeps in the refrigerator for up to a month.

Serves 6-8.

Transitioning into Fall

Transitioning into Fall

Daily Practice Inspiration

In order to be in balance and to stay grounded with what is around us, we need to seek or find grounding and balance within ourselves…the best we can. Create a ritual for yourself – maybe something as simple as a 10-minute mediation to steady the mind. Or, start your morning with some gentle sun salutations and balancing postures to invigorate you and prepare you for your day. Finish the practice with a forward fold and a cozy Savansana.

Kohlrabi and Baby Leek Soup

Kohlrabi and Baby Leek Soup

Mains & Sides Recipe

My husband and I were at the Farmers Market. He wanted kohlrabi; I wanted baby leeks. I thought I’d make a soup with both. That’s essentially how this recipe was created.  And while the recipe is written for kohlrabi and baby leeks, there are some alternate ingredients included below. When visiting friends in Seattle and wanting to make it for a dinner party, kohlrabi and baby leeks weren’t available or in season. So, I used what was at hand locally and in my friends’ pantry. I know you aren’t supposed to experiment when cooking for others but I made a rutabaga, which I’ve never cooked but is from the same brassica family, and leek soup. Both soups were equally delicious and didn’t disappoint.

The flavor profile using kohlrabi versus rutabaga is mildly different – hints of sweet, peppery broccoli stem versus bitter turnip. And, the kohlrabi will create a slightly thicker soup. Pick your desired combination and enjoy!

  • 5 Tbs unsalted butter, separated, plus more for flavor if needed
  • 4 Tbs olive oil
  • 1 bunch baby leeks* (about 5-6) chopped; use entire leek
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 3 small to medium kohlrabi,** greens and stems removed, cut into ½-inch chunks
  • 1 medium Yukon potato, peeled and cut into ½-inch chunks
  • 5 cups stock (chicken or vegetable)
  • Aleppo pepper
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 3-4 sprigs of thyme, plus extra for flavor or garnish
  • Salt and pepper
  • Pecorino Romano cheese,*** grated, for garnish

Heat 4 Tbs of butter and the olive oil in a large pot on medium heat, melting the butter until it is slightly foaming. Add baby leeks and onion and cook until the onions become slightly translucent, stirring often, about 10 minutes. Add thyme sprigs and 3 generous pinches of Aleppo pepper. Reduce heat slightly and cook until leeks or onions just start to caramelize.

Add kohlrabi, potato and 1 tsp salt. Return heat to medium and cook about 5-7 minutes.

Add stock and bay leaf. Bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 25 to 30 minutes, or until kohlrabi and potato are tender.

Remove pot from heat and discard bay leaf and thyme stems. Purée mixture with a hand blender until smooth and creamy. Add stock to thin or cook longer to reach your desired consistency. Taste and add chopped thyme, Aleppo pepper, salt and/or pepper to adjust seasonings as needed. Butter can also be added if desired (which I did for the rutabaga variation.)

Return pot to heat and cook on low until ready to serve. Garnish with Pecorino Romano and thyme. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Serves 3-4 dinner portions or 6-8 side portions.

Alternative Ingredients (interchangeable for one or all of the above):
* 2 leeks, white and light green portions only, chopped
**1 large rutabaga, peeled and cut into ½-inch chunks
*** Parmigiano-Reggiano, grated

Roasted Winter Vegetables with Crispy Sage

Roasted Winter Vegetables with Crispy Sage

Mains & Sides Recipe

This recipe is easy and the taste (and aroma) of the buttery sage with the vegetables is a delicious pairing. And to be honest, the dish is comprised of what remained in the fridge and pantry combined with a craving for sage. It could be made with a variety of winter vegetables.

  • 2 sweet potatoes
  • 1 red potato
  • 4 turnips
  • 3 large carrots
  • 1 onion
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 15-20 cremini mushrooms
  • 1 ½ Tbs fresh thyme leaves, chopped, plus some sprigs for roasting
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • 10 to 12 sage leaves, cut into a chiffonade
  • 3 Tbs unsalted butter

Preheat oven at 400°F.

Clean mushrooms and trim ends. Place mushrooms into bowl and toss with a little olive oil. Set aside.

Peel and cut potatoes, turnips and carrots into approximate 1-inch cubes. Cut ends of onion and remove outer skin. Cut onion in half and cut each half into quarters (or sixths if using a large onion.) Put potatoes, turnips, carrots and onions onto a large baking sheet and drizzle with a little olive oil. Add salt, pepper, minced garlic and chopped thyme and mix with your hand. Place thyme sprigs on top of vegetables. Roast for 25 minutes.

In the meantime, in small sauté pan heat melt butter with 1 Tbs olive oil on medium. When butter starts to slightly brown add sage leaves and fry until sage is just crisp. Remove sage with a slotted spoon or spatula and spread out on a plate covered with paper towels.

Once vegetable mixture has roasted for 25 minutes, spread mushrooms onto baking sheet and roast vegetables for an additional 25 minutes. For final 5 to 7 minutes, increase oven temperature to 425°F and roast until vegetables are slightly golden or brown. Remove from oven, mix vegetables and add the sage, salt and pepper (or a favorite seasoning) to taste.

Roasted Butternut Squash with Poblano Pepper

Roasted Butternut Squash with Poblano Pepper

Mains & Sides Recipe

This dish is vibrant and warming. I’ve paired with a protein for meals but it could be used as a main dish accompanied with other veggies or grains since the squash is hearty. I use a chimichurri spice blend that has 3 different dried Mexican chiles. Chili powder would make a great substitute as noted below.

The recipe will fill two large baking sheets. If you only have one baking sheet, wrap up one half of the butternut squash and put it in the refrigerator for another day. You can also half spice, chili and sauce amount.

  • 1 butternut squash (2 lbs)
  • 1 poblano pepper, deseeded and ribs removed, chopped
  • 2 tsp chimichurri spice (or 2 tsp chili powder plus ½ tsp dried oregano)
  • 1 tsp paprika (omit if using chili powder)
  • 4 Tbs olive oil
  • Salt
  • Lime wedges (optional)

Sauce

  • ½ cup Greek yogurt
  • ½ cup buttermilk
  • 1 Tbs olive oil
  • 3 small garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • pinch of salt
  • Preheat oven at 400°F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.

    Peel the squash and cut in half lengthwise. Scoop out and discard the seeds. Slice each half, from top to bottom, into 1/3-inch thick slices. Lay the slices on baking sheets. Combine the oil and spices in a small bowl and brush the oil mixture onto the squash slices. Sprinkle the poblano then a little salt over the slices and roast in oven for 15 to 20 minutes, until squash is tender. Set aside to cool.

    In meantime, whisk together the sauce ingredient. Once the butternut squash slices have cooled, plate them and drizzle with the sauce. Add fresh lime juice to desired taste.

    Balkan Polenta with Rapini

    Balkan Polenta with Rapini

    Mains & Sides Recipe

    To me, this is comfort food. The warm, sweet flavor of the polenta combined with bitter rapini and salty, tangy feta and makes my mouth water. Balkan polenta is made with coarse cornmeal, which gives it a more defined texture. And while I love Greek feta, I like a softer and stronger Bulgarian feta for this and other baked dishes. I also only buy feta swimming in brine. The brine keeps the cheese moist and gives it has a longer shelf life. When first made the polenta will have a softer consistency like porridge. As it sits it will firm and cut nicely into squares. It’s also great as leftovers. One next-day idea shown in the photo below: cut it into squares; brush the squares with olive oil; and bake at 350 deg F until golden.

    Polenta
    • 1 ½ cups coarse yellow cornmeal
    • 4 cups vegetable or chicken stock
    • ½ cup olive oil
    • 1 ¾ cups feta, freshly crumbled
    • 1 cup yogurt
    • ½ lb rapini, washed and coarsely chopped
    • Salt and Pepper to taste

    Topping
    • ¼ cup olive oil
    • 4 small garlic cloves, finely chopped
    • 1 tsp Allepo or Urfa Biber pepper (alternatively one pinch of crushed pepper flakes)
    • ½ cup white wine or scant ½ cup vegetable or chicken stock
    • 1 Tsp fresh thyme, chopped
    • Juice of lemon to taste (optional)
    • Salt (optional)

    Mix the cornmeal with 1 ½ cups cold water in a bowl. Let stand for 5 minutes.

    In meantime, bring stock to boil. Add rapini and cornmeal, stirring frequently for 10 to 12 minutes. Add olive oil and cook for additional 5 minutes, or until mixture thickens. Remove mixture from heat and fold in the feta and yogurt. Salt and pepper to taste.

    For the topping, heat the olive oil in a small skillet. Sauté the garlic for 30 seconds or until fragrant, and then add the pepper. Add the wine or stock and when sauce starts to bubble, simmer on low for 3-5 minutes. Remove from heat, taste and add salt and lemon juice to taste. Drizzle the sauce over the polenta. (If sensitive to salt or lemon, I suggest adding after sauce is added to polenta.)

    Baked Balkan Polenta Squares Option
    Dried Orange Peel

    Dried Orange Peel

    Mise en place Wellness

    Dried Orange Peel: Before you peel or cut your organic oranges, remove the thin strips with a peeler. Place the strips separately on a towel/paper towel in an open dish. Leave them out to dry for 3-4 days. Once they are completely dry, put them airtight jar.  Dried orange peels have a deep flavor which are a great ingredient for savory or sweet recipes. You can zest or grind the peels or add them whole into sauces or stews.

    For my autumn-winter smoothies, which during the cooler temperatures I consume close to room temperature, I toss in half an orange strip, a generous amount of cinnamon and at least a 1/2-inch slice of ginger. Orange peel helps improve digestion and sluggishness in the gut, and ginger and cinnamon are both warming spices that make the smoothie more digestible during the season.