curried butternut squash soup

 curried butternut squash soup
 butternut squash, onion, garlic, sweet potato and thyme
 garlic and thyme
 curried butternut squash soup

This past week has been a strange one of sorts. The beating heart of my entire cooking operation is undergoing some cosmetic changes. Frankly I’ve been putting this project off for years because I knew what it would entail. Chaos. And for someone with anxiety, chaos in the house means chaos in the head.

I prefer order or at least some form of it. Call me crazy but if my surroundings are in a state of disarray, so is the general state of my mind. I’ve never been good at the compartmentalization business and just find myself wanting to escape from crazy messes or ignore them all together (and watch 2 hours of Chvrches videos instead). And by no means am I a neat freak or even overly organized. Hardly! But I need some sort of order, I need things to be as Anthony Bourdain so famously liked to say, mis-en-place. And I agree, I just like my shit to be in its right place so I can easily access it.

So right now, everything is everywhere and life with two small children and a husband who’s been knee deep in paint most of the day, has been trying. But I’m adapting; managing to cook as best as I can in the shell that used to be the kitchen.

I’m sticking with dishes that can be made simply without a ton of pots, without a lot of space, without a lot of fuss. For me, that’s always been soup. Soup is not a fussy food and it’s almost impossible to screw it up.

And since it’s fall and already too cold for my liking, I decided a warming, curried butternut squash soup would do. The effort required for this one is pretty minimal. You cut some vegetables, throw them in the oven, roast them for a while, toss them in a pot of broth and when finished cooking, puree the whole thing. Voila!

So whether you have an upside down kitchen or a perfectly organized one, you’ll be able to successfully make this curried butternut squash soup in under an hour.

 curried butternut squash soup
 curried butternut squash soup

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curried butternut squash soup

  • Prep time: 5-10 minutes

  • Cooking time: 40 minutes

  • Serves 6

Ingredients:

  • 1 medium butternut squash, peeled and cut into cubes

  • 1 small sweet potato, peeled and cut into cubes

  • 1 medium apple, peeled and cut into large chunks 

  • 1 garlic clove, peeled - left whole

  • 1 medium onion, peeled and cut into large chunks 

  • 2 tbsp avocado oil

  • 1 tbsp fresh thyme (or 1/2 dry) 

  • 1/2 tsp salt (you can always add more later)

  • 1/4 tsp pepper

  • 1/4 tsp ginger

  • 1/8 tsp curry powder

  • 4 cups chicken broth or vegetable broth (I like this one

  • optional: pumpkin seeds and almond slices

  • optional: coconut milk

Equipment:

  • roasting sheet

  • large soup pan

  • food processor or blender

  • foil or parchment paper

Directions

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Add vegetables to parchment paper lined roasting sheet. Add thyme, avocado oil, salt and pepper and toss everything together. Roast for 25-30 minutes stirring once half way through. Cook until all vegetables are soft.

Meanwhile, add broth to soup pan and start heating it. Once vegetables are finished roasting, remove garlic clove and discard, add all veggies to broth along with ginger and curry powder and simmer on medium-low for 10 minutes. Remove from heat. 

Let cool for a few minutes before adding to blender or food processor. Add a little at a time as adding to much of the soup to the food processor/blender creates quite the mess.

Serve on its own or with a splash of coconut milk, almond slices and pumpkin seeds.


 Here is a simple, warming butternut squash soup recipe that’s you’re going to love. Roasting the vegetables first, gives them a delicious, hearty flavor. This butternut squash soup is paleo, vegan and whole 30 approved too and just plain delicious! #soup, #fall, #calmeats, #butternutsquashsoup, #vegan, #whole30, #grainfree, #glutenfree, #dairyfree, #fallsoup, #whole30soup, #vegansoup, #paleosoup, #curriedsoup, #curriedbutternutsquash

sausage kale and carrot soup

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Yesterday I got this pang in my chest...a need to go to the ocean, which I think about more times than I care to admit. I don't know what it is that draws me to it. I suppose it's the thing that draws so many to the shoreline. For me, it's an obsession, which can't be silenced. Most like going to the beach in the summer. It's obvious. I do too but I like the beach in the winter, fall and spring. 

My husband and I have taken several trips in the winter. Something we used to do more frequently pre-children. He reluctantly agrees to go even though he doesn't have the same fondness for the beach in the winter as I do. To me, perhaps one of loveliest things is waking up early, layering up with anything available in my suitcase and walking on the beach until my lips remind me that they're going to split if I don't immediately give them warmth. 

The feeling of walking on an empty beach with nothing but the wind, sand and crashing waves feels a bit like: "shhhhh....relax". There isn't much room for thoughts because the experience itself is overwhelming. I don't know how to take it in more. I want to create extra space in my body, in my mind to preserve this feeling that can't be preserved. It's hard to put into words something visceral but the ocean does something to me. It transforms me. However, that feeling quickly fades once I'm frozen to the core. 

Such cold, blistery beach strolls call for warm food - mainly soup. One of the most delicious soups I've had after such a walk was at a local restaurant in the beach town we frequently visit. It was a sausage, bean and greens soup, which inspired me to make my own version of it. While I do eat legumes now and then, they're not a regular part of my diet anymore so I decided to skip them for this recipe. However, the soup does need some creaminess so I opted for potato instead. The combination of sausage, kale and potato is glorious. If you want a bit of a kick, feel free to use spicy sausage, which is my favorite, but in order for my kids to eat it, I try to stick to mild. Also, if you're strictly paleo, feel free to skip the potato all together. 

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sausage kale and carrot soup

  • prep time: 10 minutes

  • cooking time: 40-45 minutes

  • makes: 6 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp olive oil

  • 6 medium carrots chopped into 1" pieces

  • 1 onion, chopped

  • 2 cloves garlic, minced

  • 1 lb Italian mild or spicy sausage, casings removed

  • 1 russet potato, cut into bite size pieces (skip if strictly paleo)

  • 1 tsp apple cider vinegar

  • 1/2 tsp dry thyme

  • 1/4 tsp ground cumin

  • 1/2 tsp salt

  • 1/4 tsp pepper

  • 4 cups chicken broth

  • 1 bunch kale, stems removed, torn into bite size pieces

Equipment

  • large soup pot

  • wooden slotted spoon

Directions

Preheat soup pan on medium heat. Add olive oil, onion and a pinch of salt. Cook until onion is translucent - about 8 minutes.

Add garlic and sauté for 30 seconds. Add sausage to pan, breaking it up with wooden spoon into bite size pieces. Cook for 10 minutes, stirring frequently until browned.

Next, add carrots and potatoes and cook for 2 minutes, stirring continuously. Add rest of ingredients aside from kale and cook for 25 minutes. Add kale in the last 10 minutes of cooking. Serve right away or store in the refrigerator in an air tight container. 

* Soup always tastes better the second day


 Soup is amazing anytime of the year but I find it to be particularly so when the weather gets cooler and the body just needs that extra warmth. This sausage, kale, potato and carrot soup is the perfect solution for when you want a little something hearty and warming. It's whole30 with paleo option and 100% delicious. #soup, #whole30, #paleo, #paleosoup, #whole30soup, #calmeats, #glutenfree, #dairyfree, #realfood, #fall, #kale, #sausage

coconut cilantro sweet potato soup

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Sunday is my cooking day. I generally try to take a good chunk of the day and focus on making at least one recipe, get a shoot in and maybe if I'm lucky even get some editing and writing in. My plan was to work on a coconut cilantro sweet potato soup. That was until my kids decided to re-write how my day would go. As a parent, I've learned to roll with things as much as I possibly can. I used to get pretty frustrated when things didn't work out as I'd hoped but I'm slowly learning that it will not get me anywhere. 

Something I have been thinking about lately is my sense of self. When I was young, I had this idea of who I was, what I liked and what defined me. Admittedly I also thought it was something unwavering. I suppose it was a naive way of thinking as I now believe that experiences can shape us. I'm not the woman I was 10 years ago and will not be who I am today, 10 years from now. 

One thing that proved my identity to be fluid and far from fixed, was having children. You see, before I was a parent, I didn't really understand kids. Not that I didn't like them, but had no exposure to them. Then came the day I found out I was pregnant. All experiences up until that point just moved past me and while significant in their own way, they just skimmed the surface. The moment I learned I was carrying a human being inside me, my sense of self became rocky. I went through weeks and weeks of not just relentless nausea but constant questioning and wondering how I was supposed to fit into this role that changed me in the blink of an eye. I'm sure if you're a parent, you can probably relate to having experienced something similar. 

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Then came the actual parenting part, which is as much humbling as it is trying. Being a parent has forced me to put on hold my selfish tendencies, at least in some respect. As much as I hate admitting it, on most days, I'm at the mercy of my kids. Using rational thought and persuasion does not work on a 18 month old and a 4.5 year old. I'm forced to bend and twist in all sorts of ways in order to get actual adult stuff done. 

But once in a while I'm caught off guard when my son runs for his step stool, parks it next to me and says: "I'm going to help you cook, mama". If only for a brief moment it feels like my adult self and my mother self can coexist and be one. So little hands, busy peeling sweet potatoes, helped to make soup.

The idea for it came from the broth of a curry I'd made. The combination of flavors was spot on. So I decided to take those flavors and turn them into a soup. It's by far one of my favorites and not just because it's sweet potato but because it has coconut milk in it. And if there's one food that brings me to my knees, it is coconut. It's simply spectacular in my book. 

This recipe is uncomplicated and if you're a spice lover, you're probably already sitting on a most of these. All you need for this soup are sweet potatoes, coconut milk, onion, broth, spices and cilantro. I have most of these ingredients on hand at all times, so it's a great one to whip up when you want a warming lunch. 


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coconut cilantro sweet potato soup

  • Prep time: 5 minutes

  • Baking time: 40 minutes

  • Makes: 4-6 servings

Ingredients

  • 4 large sweet potatoes cut into 1" pieces

  • 1 large onion chopped

  • 1 tbsp coconut oil

  • 1 can coconut milk

  • 1 tbsp garam masala

  • 1/2 tsp ground coriander

  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger

  • 1 tsp ground turmeric

  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin

  • 4 cups broth of your choice

  • 3/4 tsp salt divided

  • 1/4 ground pepper

  • 1 tbsp fresh chopped cilantro

  • optional: top with sliced almonds

Equipment

  • food processor

  • large heavy soup pot

Directions

Preheat soup pan on medium heat. Add coconut oil, onion and 1/4 tsp salt. Sauté until onion is translucent - about 8 minutes. Add sweet potatoes, garam masala, coriander, ginger, turmeric, cumin, remaining 1/2 tsp salt and pepper and cook stirring frequently for 5 minutes. Add broth and bring to a boil. Next reduce heat to low and cook for about 25-30 minutes. 

Once sweet potatoes are soft, add coconut milk and chopped cilantro. Let cool for a few minutes before adding to food processor. 

Once pureed, you can serve with additional cilantro and almond slices. 


 I can't say enough about this soup. It's one of my all time favorites. It's a comforting soup you can make year round but definitely ideal for the colder weather months. Coconut cilantro and roasted sweet potatoes blend beautifully to create a silky, flavorful soup. It's vegan, paleo as well as whole 30. #coconut, #sweetpotatoes, #sweetpotatosoup, #soup, #vegansoup, #paleo, #whole30, #calmeats, #vegan, #glutenfree, #dairyfree, #cilantro, #souprecipe

roasted carrot and ginger soup

roasted carrot and ginger soup

Is it just me or does anyone else get excited about vegetables? I look forward to my farmers market trip every weekend. It feels different than going to the regular grocery store. For me, it seems a little more relaxed and often reminds me of life with my great grandparents in Romania. 

Every summer, my cousins and I would spend at least a month in the country. There was no electricity, no running water, no bathroom (gasp). It was back to basics. And you know what? None of us kids seemed remotely bothered that we had to use an outhouse that was surrounded by chickens and pigs and god knows what other farm animals. Or that baths had to be taken in a large tub located in the yard. It was how things were done. 

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bone broth vegetable soup

 bone broth vegetable soup

By now it should come as no surprise that my focus when it comes to health and well being revolves around gut health. I've written about this in other posts

For my body composition, I find that I function optimally on food that's mostly cooked and consuming only some of it raw. This changes according to seasons, but even on mild days, my body craves light soups. On wet, spring days, I especially want something warming. While there are those who believe food should be eaten raw, I find a lot of uncooked food to be hard on digestion, leaving me bloated and uncomfortable.

How raw food can tax the body:

  1. Thyroid Health: I touched on this briefly in this post but cruciferous vegetables in particular can be taxing on the thyroid. These include: Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, broccoli. Several leafy cruciferous vegetables such as bok choy, collard greens, kale, red and green cabbage, chard, turnip greens, arugula, mustard greens, savoy cabbage, Chinese cabbage, rapini, watercress, radish, horseradish, turnip, rutabaga, wasabi and Oriental radish. When consuming these vegetables in small amounts there is an increased need for iodine. When consumed in larger amounts, they can wreck the thyroid gland as it may become enlarged as a result of it trying to pull iodine out of the bloodstream.

  2. Digestive Health: Unlike cows or other mammals that have several stomachs to help break down raw food, we only have one and ours is not well equipped to properly break down food in order for the gut to optimally absorb nutrients. Consuming mostly raw foods that are high in cellulose, will lead to constipation, bloating, indigestion, fatigue, allergies, weight gain.

  3. Inability to absorb nutrients: We could literally starve the body of nutrients while eating all the right foods by not properly preparing them. By cooking most (but not all) vegetables we ensure that a certain amount of digestion has already occured before we take the first bite.

"Vegetables and legumes represent one of the most important components of the human diet. Being informed about their characteristics can improve the health benefits, helping to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, type II diabetes and some cancers. Recent studies have demonstrated that the method of preparation and cooking can improve the nutrition quality of food."

Cooking vegetables in the form of soup, not only softens them allowing your body to do less work, but also provides a good amount of water to your system, which is critical for your colon to function. In addition, I cook my vegetable soup with bone broth, which packs additional nutrients. For a full recipe and variations for making bone broth, please check out this post.

In Ayurveda and also in Traditional Chinese Medicine, eating too many raw foods is said to adversely affect the body by creating a burden on the digestive system. Cooking certain vegetables can actually unlock nutrients that may otherwise not be available. Heating actually helps to break down some of the hard to digest fiber. While some vitamins are inevitably lost during the cooking process there are still plenty retained and I've noticed a drastic improvement in my digestive health. 

Benefits of bone broth vegetable soup: 

  • intake of numerous vegetables at the same time

  • helps to heal and seal the gut lining

  • easy on the digestive system

  • provides additional water to the large intestine, which is crucial for proper elimination

  • hydrating to the whole system

  • helps with regularity

  • supports weigh-tloss

  • full of vitamins and minerals

  • anti-inflammator

 bone broth vegetable soup
 bone broth vegetable soup
 bone broth vegetable soup

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bone broth vegetable soup

  • prep time: 10

  • cooking time: 45-60 minutes

  • yields: 8 servings

Ingredients:

  • 2 large or 3 medium organic sweet potatoes cut into small chunks

  • 4 large carrots cut into bite size pieces

  • 1 onion diced

  • 2 zucchini cut into bite size pieces

  • a good handful of green beans cut into bite size pieces

  • 1 tsp ground ginger

  • 1/2 tsp turmeric (optional)

  • 1/2 tsp ground coriander (optional)

  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder

  • 1 tbsp fresh chopped parsley

  • 1 tbsp fresh chopped dill

  • 1 tsp fresh squeezed lemon juice

  • 1-2 tbsp coconut oil

  • 4-6 cups bone broth (home made or store bought. I've used this brand when I didn't have fresh on hand, but most grocery stores sell some version of bone broth. You can also do 4 cups broth and the rest water, if you want more liquid.

* When purchasing bone broth, be sure it is organic. You want to make sure the bones used for the broth are free of hormones and antibiotics. 

* This soup is fantastic for little ones. One thing I want to note. If you plan on giving this soup to babies/toddlers, either skip the turmeric or make sure they don't wear anything you don't want stained. Kids are messy and turmeric stains (TRUST ME). 

Directions: 

Heat a large soup pan over medium heat, add the oil and onion and sauté until translucent but not burned. About 5 minutes.

Add the rest of the vegetables, herbs and spices and cook for 2 more minutes. Add broth and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and let cook for 30-45 minutes.

Finish with fresh squeezed lemon juice. Store in air tight container in the refrigerator for up to a week.


 This gut healthy bone broth vegetable soup is perfect for a cold winter day or any time of the year. It’s a nourishing soup loaded with vegetables, and full of protein from the delicious bone broth. If you’re vegan, feel free to use vegetable broth instead. #soup, #bonebroth, #traditionalfood, #paleo, #whole30, #glutenfree, #dairyfree, #lunch