I've been working my way through this new vegan cookbook and one of the recipes I had my eye on has a beautiful photo, including what I mistakenly thought was butternut squash (it's actually sweet potato). Once I decided to make it, I headed to the grocery store and grabbed the biggest butternut squash in the display — fully intending to use it right away.
Well, you all know what happened next. I had to go back to the grocery store (hey, with four kids I'm there every day anyway) to get the sweet potatoes. So the squash held court on a patch of highly coveted counter space in our kitchen.
My husband does 90 percent of the kitchen clean up (since I'm the one creating 90 percent of the kitchen mess), so it was left to him to pick up and put down that squash each and every time he wiped down the counters. I knew I could get away with it for a few days, until finally and predictably he casually and cautiously asked, Are you using this squash for anything?
I know how much he appreciates the effort I put into feeding our family, and he never questions how I go about doing it. But that huge squash was really getting on his nerves.
Most of the week's meals are filled with tried-and-true recipes. I just can't take a chance with food experimentation when I'm facing hungry kids and limited time — and squash would definitely qualify as an experiment if you ask my children. I do my best to cook up a batch of vegetarian soup or stew for the grown up lunches, but I was finding it hard to think of something to do with that accidental squash.
And so it happened that as I was flipping through my binder of recipes for the weekday homemade chicken noodle soup that I know everyone will eat, another recipe fell out and caught my attention. Its main ingredient is squash.
But that's not all that made me glad to have found it. The recipe was given to us by a chef at a restaurant we visited what feels like a lifetime ago. We had been camping with three very young children in Prince Edward County, and my sweetheart planned a romantic (and we'll use that term loosely here since we had three kids with us) dinner at a local restaurant called the Waring House. He'd read about it in the paper, I believe, and knew we'd both appreciate the use of locally sourced food.
Except — if memory serves — we didn't really get to savour the taste of any of it. I don't think it was one of the better eating-out-with-toddlers-and-babies experiences we've ever had, and I don't think it was for any of the patrons that were dining with us that night, either. We were seated in a quiet room with a beautiful view and a very cranky baby. I think we took turns standing outside with her, while the other parent coaxed the kids to hurry up and finish their food already.
Maybe my soup went cold or I didn't get a chance to finish it, but somehow we came away with a printed copy of the chef's recipe, and it's been sitting in my binder waiting to be made ever since.
Tonight, my husband will come home from a long day at work, and we'll have the soup while it's still warm. And we'll catch up with one another, because no one will have to go outside with a screaming baby. Maybe we'll have a laugh about that disastrous night, maybe we won't. But I do know we'd both say we are glad we tried it anyway.
And I don't mean the soup.
Squash Medley Ginger Maple Soup
- 1 large squash, baked
- 2 cups of sweet potatoes, baked
- 2 cups chopped onions
- 1 tbsp oil
- 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
- 1 tsp grated fresh ginger
- 1 cup chopped carrots
- 4 cups of vegetable stock
- 1/2 cup pure maple syrup
- salt and pepper to taste
Place the squash and the sweet potatoes in a 350 degree oven, halved, cut side down on a parchment lined baking sheet and roast for one hour. Sweat the onions until transparent in the oil and add the cayenne and ginger. Add the carrots, squash, sweet potatoes and stock and simmer for 40 minutes. Puree this mixture in a food processor in batches to get a smooth consistency (I used a hand blender). Return the soup to the pot and add the maple syrup. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serves six.