I am finally actually-back from my Thanksgiving vacation with this sweet, smoky and spicy roasted acorn squash soup! Please bear with me as I get caught up on replying to comments, etc… I had every intention of staying more on top of things, but the prospect of an extended technology break just became too good to pass up.
We spent Thanksgiving in the Bay Area (California) with J’s family and it was absolutely wonderful. There are almost too many food highlights to mention. I drove up to Berkeley to Republic of V because I heard they had Miyoko’s Kitchen vegan cheeses there, and picked up two flavors to try. They were about $10 each. The double cream sundried tomato was so-so; the flavor of nutritional yeast was very strong and I wasn’t willing to serve it to omnivores. The double cream chive was absolutely astounding. It almost didn’t make it to the (omnivore) Thanksgiving cheese spread, because I couldn’t stop eating it, but I managed to restrain myself somehow. As I watched many meat- and dairy-eaters DEVOUR the stuff, I was kind of sad because I wanted to eat more, but mostly I was happy that they were enjoying it! It legitimately tastes like a fancy dairy cream cheese, and I don’t say that lightly.
At Thanksgiving itself there were tons of other delicious vegan options, including an amazing Thai peanut scallion dip (I managed to snag an approximate recipe). Best of all was relaxing, enjoying some California sunshine, and taking a much-needed breather from work. Normally when I go on “vacation” I still check my work email every day and deal with imminent concerns, but for this trip I unplugged completely, and I have no regrets.
Some other great eats were in Oakland at Great Wall Chinese Restaurant, which is a vegetarian/pescetarian, but very-vegan establishment with a huge menu and incredibly low prices. I was excited to see a bunch of construction workers eating there for lunch. I guess I just wouldn’t expect to see them at a vegetarian joint 🙂 and finally, mouthwatering authentic Indian street food at Vik’s Chaat in Berkeley. Vegan options are clearly labeled and everything is very fresh. Eating there is a unique experience as the location is kind of a cafeteria/market hybrid. Highly recommended!
Another funny thing was that we ate this roasted acorn squash soup for an early lunch the day that we left for California. And then when we got there around dinnertime, J’s mother had ALSO made a roasted acorn squash soup for dinner. Hers was pretty delicious as well! A lot of squash for one day, though…
Before leaving Baltimore, I had whipped up a few final meals with our very last CSA shipment of the year. It was mostly squash, onions, the tiniest head of cauliflower you ever saw, and some very woody spinach. This roasted acorn squash soup is very simple and also very light. There’s not much in there aside from the squash and a few seasonings, but considering how flavorful, sweet, and silky acorn squash is, you really don’t need a lot. I tried out a new method of stuffing aromatics inside the squash while roasting it, and I was very pleased with the result. I was also happy to use up the last couple of red chilis from my backyard garden. It snowed in Baltimore while we were gone, and when I got back, my hot pepper plants were as dead as can be. So we harvested at the right time!
Okay, that was long! But this recipe is short. Hope you enjoy and that you had a happy holiday too 🙂
Smoky and Spicy Roasted Acorn Squash Soup
- 2 acorn squash halved and seeded
- 3 long red chili peppers seeded and roughly chopped (see notes)
- 4 cloves garlic roughly chopped
- 1 medium onion roughly chopped
- 1/4 cup plain, unsweetened non-dairy milk (I use soy milk)
- 1 tsp ground cumin (or 1 tsp cumin seeds, ground)
- 1/2 tbsp smoked paprika
- chili powder (to taste, optional)
- 5 drops liquid smoke (to taste, optional)
- 1/2 tsp salt (plus to taste)
- 1 lime sliced, for serving
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
Poke the acorn squash several times with a fork. Divide the chopped peppers, garlic, and onion into 4 equal portions and place them in the well of the squash. If possible, keep the garlic beneath the onions and peppers. Place the squash in a baking dish.
Roast for 45-60 minutes (depending on the size of your squash), or until the squash is very tender.
Once the squash has cooled enough to handle, scoop out the flesh and transfer it to a blender or food processor along with the vegetable filling. Puree until smooth, adding some of the nondairy milk if needed to blend.
Add the puree into a saucepan. Bring to a very gentle boil.
Reduce to a simmer and stir in any remaining nondairy milk, cumin, paprika, optional seasonings, and salt. Add water or broth if a thinner consistency is desired. Cook for 10-15 minutes or until hot throughout. Adjust salt to taste.
Serve with a squeeze of fresh lime juice.
The larger spicy peppers can vary a lot in their heat level, especially if bought at the farmers' market, so I always recommend tasting a tiny piece of a pepper before using it. If your first pepper or two are very spicy then omit the third one; play it by ear according to your heat preference.
Transform this soup into a heartier meal by adding toasted squash seeds, stirring in cooked black beans, and/or serving with rice.