Roasted Butternut Squash Soup

I thought everyone would be over butternut squash by this point, but I was wrong! I took a poll on my Instagram page last week to decide between Creamy Butternut Squash Pasta and butternut squash soup, and it resulted in a tie. Since I couldn’t possibly let half of you down, here’s the recipe for one of my favorite fall soups, just in time for #soupsunday!

A couple reasons I love this recipe: it takes less than 30 minutes to make, and you don’t have to spend any time stirring a pot or dirtying extra dishes! It’s vegan, but is so wonderfully creamy and filling, you’d never know it. You can use whatever broth you have on hand, but I used vegetable broth to keep this soup vegan. It’s perfect paired with a kale salad or some avocado toast for dinner, and reheats nicely for weekday lunches.

I was extra excited to make this soup today because of my new found affinity for crispy sage leaves. It’s not fall without the inclusion of sage in every vegetable dish, am I right? Taking the extra few minutes to “fry” some of these fuzzy little herbs in ghee to top your soup will result in a delicious and beautiful garnish for your roasted butternut squash soup.

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Roasted Butternut Squash Soup

Makes 4-6 servings

6 C butternut squash, diced

1 T olive oil

Salt & pepper

2 C leeks, roughly chopped

5 cloves garlic, roasted

2 1/2 C vegetable broth

1 C full-fat coconut milk

1/4 t crushed red pepper (optional)

Garnishes for soup- pomegranate seeds, crispy sage leaves, pepitas, etc.

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Method:

For crispy sage leaves, heat small skillet on medium heat and add 1 T ghee. Add sage leaves and fry for about 60 seconds on each side. Remove carefully with a fork and set on paper towel to absorb excess ghee.

Preheat oven to 375°. Toss butternut squash with olive oil, salt and pepper, and spread onto rimmed baking sheet in single layer. Roast in preheated oven for 15 minutes. Remove from oven and toss squash for even cooking. Add chopped leeks to baking sheet and return to oven and bake for another 10-15 minutes until veggies are golden brown.

Tip** If you don’t have roasted garlic already prepared, here are the Cliff Notes from my last post – slice the very top off of a whole head of garlic, drizzle with olive oil and wrap in aluminum foil. Roast in oven for about 20 minutes until fragrant.

In high speed blender, add roasted butternut squash, leeks, garlic, vegetable broth, and coconut milk. Blend for 20 seconds on low, and another 30 seconds on medium.

Tip** If you’d like to serve this soup right away, make sure to heat broth and coconut milk before adding to blender so soup is nice and hot!

If soup appears too thick, add 1/4 C more broth. Season with salt, pepper, and optional crushed red pepper. Enjoy!

Autumn Quiche with Paleo Crust

It’s a lazy Saturday morning and I have a bunch of random vegetables laying around, so you know what what means- QUICHE! I haven’t made a quiche with a crust for a long time, and now that I’m avoiding gluten, I needed to conjure up a new recipe. I found a recipe from Paleo Running Momma that uses a combination of gluten free flours, but sounded simple enough. I tweaked it just a tad, and it came out wonderfully. This crust is quick and easy, and doesn’t require any rolling out!

I had some turkey sausage and fresh sage to use, so I thought I’d combine some autumn flavors for a hearty and filling paleo breakfast. Like my other quiche recipe, you can use any vegetables and meat you have on hand and as long as you stick to similar measurements, it will turn out great! For example, I used leftover cooked acorn squash as the carb-y vegetable in my quiche, but hash browns or leftover roasted potatoes would be great too!

I tried something new today by not adding any milk to the egg mixture and really liked the results. It came out a little richer, and had amazing flavor. The pinch of smoked paprika adds a nice amount of heat that perfectly compliments the flavors of the turkey sausage and fresh veggies. Matt is a tough judge when it comes to quiche, as he is not a fan of eggs, so his seal of approval this morning was a real success.

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Autumn Quiche with Paleo Crust

Makes 6-8 servings

For the crust:

1 C almond flour

2 T coconut flour

2/3 C tapioca flour

1/3 C cold ghee or vegan butter

Pinch sea salt

1 egg

For the filling:

1 C cooked squash, cubed (or substitute with hash browns or cooked potatoes)

1/2 bell pepper (about 3/4 C) diced

1/2 yellow onion (about 3/4 C) diced

3/4 lb turkey sausage

1 t fresh sage, chopped

6 eggs

Salt & pepper

Pinch smoked paprika

Method:

Preheat oven to 375°.

For the crust, combine all ingredients in large mixing bowl and use pastry cutter or two butter knives to cut butter and egg into dry ingredients. When dough starts to form, use clean hands to knead. Turn dough into pie dish and lightly spray your hands with nonstick oil. Press crust onto bottom and sides of pie dish lightly, until evenly distributed. Pierce with a fork to prevent crust from rising, and bake in preheated oven for 6 minutes. Set aside to cool slightly, and lower oven temperature to 350°.

In medium skillet, cook sausage until no longer pink, breaking up into small pieces as it cooks. Drain fat and discard. Add onion and continue to cook for about 2 minutes, until onion starts to turn translucent. Add bell peppers and season with salt and pepper. Turn off heat. Add squash or leftover potatoes to pie dish, sprinkle sage, and add mixture from skillet, distributing evenly over crust.

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In large mixing bowl, whisk eggs, salt, pepper, and smoked paprika, and carefully pour into pie dish. Bake at 350°  for 40-45 minutes, until nice and brown on edges and eggs are completely set completely in middle of quiche. Let sit at room temperature for about 5 minutes, and use knife to loosen crust from sides of pie dish for easier serving. Garnish with fresh parsley and serve. Enjoy!

Tip** for a nice golden top, turn oven to broil for last 5 minutes of cooking. Watch quiche very carefully during this step so it doesn’t burn!

Winter Minestrone Soup (GF)

The other night, my mom took me to see Ina Garten live at the Chicago Theater, and let me just say that I didn’t think it was possible to love her more than I did, but I do. It’s possible. She’s the best. She spoke about her almost 50 years of married life with her husband Jeffrey, and about all the experiences throughout her life that led her to where she is now, creating recipes on her farm in the Hamptons every day. Like what is that and how do I get to that point in life?

She acknowledged the existence of the “store bought is fine” meme, which I found very satisfying, and poked fun at herself for the number of times she says “how easy is that?” She spent a lot of time explaining her method for creating and testing recipes. I never realized how much thought and testing she puts into every single recipe, and it really struck a chord with me because she cares so much about how the finished product turns out for home cooks.

I love all her recipes, but this soup is on my list of favorites. I made a few small tweaks, and although she might not appreciate me dissecting her perfectly-crafted recipe to make it gluten and dairy-free, I hope you will! Because now we can alllll cozy up with a bowl of her amazing Winter Minestrone soup this season.

This recipe looks a little daunting at first because of the long list of ingredients, but you will probably already have most of them on hand like I did. One thing to note is that Ina stresses the use of chicken stock, not broth, in this recipe and it does make a noticeable difference. She of course makes her own stock, but let’s not get carried away… “Store bought is just fine.”

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Ina’s Winter Minestrone Soup (made GF and dairy-free)

Makes 6-8 servings

Good olive oil

4 ounces bacon, ½-inch-diced

1 large yellow onion, chopped

3 carrots, peeled and diced

3 stalks celery, diced

2½ cups butternut squash, peeled and diced

4 cloves minced garlic

1 t dried thyme

2- 14.5 oz cans roasted diced tomatoes

1 carton chicken stock (4 C)

1 bay leaf

Salt & pepper

1 (15-ounce) can cannellini beans (or Northern beans), drained and rinsed

2 C cooked GF pasta (I used Whole Foods brand chickpea shells)

8 to 10 ounces fresh baby spinach leaves

½ cup dry white wine

2 tablespoons store-bought pesto (make sure it’s dairy-free)

1/4 C nutritional yeast

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Method:

Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat in a Dutch oven. Add  bacon and cook over medium heat for a few minutes, stirring occasionally, until browned.

Add the onions, carrots, celery, squash, garlic, and thyme and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, for 8 to 10 minutes, until the vegetables begin to soften.

Add the tomatoes, chicken stock, the bay leaf, salt and pepper to the pot. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer uncovered for 30 minutes, until the vegetables are tender.

Discard the bay leaf. Add the beans and cooked pasta and heat through. Just before serving, reheat the soup, add the spinach, cook just until the leaves are wilted. Stir in the white wine, pesto, and nutritional yeast. Enjoy!

Tip** if you plan on having leftovers, leave all pasta on side and add to soup as you serve. If you leave it in the soup for multiple days, it’ll absorb too much liquid from the soup and turn to mush.

Slow Cooker Pot Roast

As the weather begins to turn and the days get shorter, I find myself craving warm, hearty meals. Pot roast is one of my Grandma’s specialties, and making it at home always reminds me of Sunday dinners at her house. She makes a hearty gravy and butter-filled mashed potatoes to go along with it, so it took me a while to find a recipe that was almost as delicious and comforting as hers without the added dairy and gluten.

I finally found a winner by adapting Cooking Light’s pot roast recipe; reducing the number of servings and turning it into the perfect slow cooker recipe.  This pot roast is my go-to cure the Sunday Scaries, and leaves us with at least one or two more meal’s worth of leftovers for weeknights. When I am on the Whole 30 or am making a conscious effort to avoid alcohol, I simply omit the wine and replace it with more beef broth.

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Instead of cooking the potatoes in the crock pot, I made dairy-free mashed potatoes to mimic Grandma’s dinner

Searing the roast before adding it to the crock pot may sound like an annoying, unnecessary step, but let me tell you- it makes a huge difference. It seals in the juice and flavor, keeping the roast tender and moist while it’s in the slow cooker. Please don’t skip this step- you will not get the same great results.

After making this a few times, I learned to add the carrots and potatoes towards the end of the cooking process so they aren’t  complete mush when the roast is ready. I like my veggies al-dente, so this fix works for me. If you’d like very soft carrots and potatoes, feel free to throw those in the crock pot at the beginning of the cooking process.

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Slow Cooker Pot Roast

Makes about 6 servings

2 1/2 – 3 lb boneless chuck roast

1 t sea salt

1/2 t fresh ground black pepper

2 T ghee or olive oil

1 onion, roughly chopped

3/4 C red wine

2 C organic beef broth

1 bay leaf

4 cloves garlic, smashed

1 t dried thyme, or 3 sprigs fresh thyme

1 t dried rosemary, or 2 t fresh rosemary, chopped

3 large carrots, peeled and chopped into eighths

4 medium-sized Yukon gold potatoes cut into eighths

Method:

Heat dutch oven or large frying pan. Once pan is hot, add ghee or olive oil. Salt and pepper all sides of chuck roast. Add meat to pan and sear every exposed side of meat for about 1-2 minutes, until brown.

Add seared chuck roast to slow cooker, making sure to include all juice and scrapings from pan. Add onion, wine, beef broth, bay leaf, garlic, and thyme. Set slow cooker on low for 8 hours.

Tip** If you’ll be home while the roast is cooking, baste roast with liquid every hour or so. If you’re setting it and going to work, just make sure pot roast is mostly covered with liquid.

When there is about 1 1/2 hours of cooking left, add peeled carrots and potatoes and a little more salt and pepper to slow cooker. You’ll know beef is done when it’s tender enough to fall apart.

Cut roast into large chunks, and serve with potatoes, carrots, and a ladle of broth mixture. Enjoy!

Stuffed Acorn Squash (Whole 30 & Paleo)

My mom always baked acorn squash with butter and brown sugar, until it was so soft it was basically falling away from the skin. The top would perfectly caramelize, making the whole house smell like Thanksgiving. When I make it now, one bite brings me straight back to eating dinner as a family at our kitchen table in the house on Parkside.

I had some organic pork sausage in the fridge this week and thought the best way to kick off my squash marathon would be by stuffing the one I’m most familiar with a bunch of yummy things!  I have to say that this turned out so delicious, I’m inserting it into my week night meal rotation for the rest of the year. If you don’t like one or two of the stuffing ingredients, just sub it out for something else! This meal is so hearty and flavorful, I believe it has the power to convert even the weariest of the squash-avoiders.

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Stuffed Acorn Squash

Makes about 4 servings

2 acorn squashes

1 T olive oil or coconut oil

1 lb bulk pork sausage (sugar-free if you’re doing Whole 30/ Paleo)

1 small onion diced

1 celery stalk diced

1 small apple diced

3 handfuls chopped kale

1 t dried rosemary

1 t dried thyme

1 t garlic powder

Pinch of allspice

1/2 t cinnamon

1/4 C golden raisins

1/3 C chopped pecans

Sea salt and pepper to taste

Fresh parsley for garnish

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Method:

Heat oven to 400°

Cut squash lengthwise and remove seeds with a spoon. Brush with oil and salt. Place cut side down on baking sheet lined with foil or parchment paper and bake for about 35 mins, or until soft.

Meanwhile,  brown sausage in a pan over medium heat until no longer pink. Keep fat in there! It adds so much flavor. Add onion, apple, and celery, cooking until soft. Add kale, and stir until wilted.

Add all seasonings, raisins, and pecans. Stir until combined and remove from heat. Spoon into prepared squash and top with fresh parsley. Enjoy!