Fear-factor foods. You know what I’m talking about! Not weird or creepy foods. Just simple fruits and vegetables that you haven’t ever tried (or cooked with) because they intimidate the heck out of you!
Seems silly, right? Innocent fruits and veggies! Occasionally we glance, pause, and consider putting that produce item in our cart. But then we think “what if the kids don’t like it?“… “really, do I even have time to experiment with a new veggie this week?!” … “it will just be a waste of money!”
Yeah, there’s always a reason to forgo and instead pick up the familiar: carrots, potatoes, cucumbers, lettuce. Hey, I’ve been there. I’m still there! There are certain veg I still ignore, like daikon radish, kohlrabi, mizuna, arugula, and all things cabbage!
In my early vegan cooking days, one of those fear-factor vegetables was winter squash. They were so mysteriously unapproachable with their shapes, large size, and hard peels. I figured I’d need safety googles to tackle one!
Yet, winter squash are actually much easier (and more forgiving) than we first assume. At this point in my plant-based journey, I absolutely love winter squash. I buy several every week – and mostly eat them myself! Besides recipes, I often eat cooked squash in daily lunch bowls during the fall and winter. They are hearty and nourishing, easy to prep (yes, easy!), and delicious.
Of course, I also love using winter squash in recipes, most often in soups. Today, I’m sharing one of my favorite recipes from Plant-Powered Families. It’s so darn easy to make!
But, before you click through to the recipe, I have a video for you about prepping winter squash. My favorite way to prep winter squash is to bake them up whole. Just a quick wash of the entire whole squash, then on to a baking sheet (lined with parchment paper). Doesn’t matter the type of squash, no need to peel or cut. This saves a lot of grief trying to slice and chop these tough guys! However, if you do want to chop/cube squash for a recipe purpose, you can make it a lot easier on yourself – and I share some tips in the video below.
After watching, pick up a butternut squash or two and enjoy this silky, creamy winter soup. The secret to making this soup especially luscious and creamy without oil? Not just the use of soaked cashews but also the roasting of the squash and the onions. Roasting veggies whole is one of my new cooking secrets for infusing dishes with deep flavor without adding oil. I hope you love this technique too!
Smashing Squash Soup (link to print/share)
This soup is unbelievably velvety and rich-tasting, yet it is so healthy and also simple to make. Once the squash and onion are roasted, the blender does the rest of the work and soup is served!
3-lb whole unpeeled butternut or other deep orange winter squash
1 large or 2 small whole, unpeeled onions
2 cups water, plus more, if desired, to thin
1/2 cup presoaked and drained raw cashews
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 teaspoon fresh rosemary (see note)
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon allspice
1 medium-large clove garlic
Preheat oven to 450°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Place the squash and onion on the prepared sheet and bake for an hour or longer, until the squash is completely tender when pierced through. (Baking time will vary depending on the size of the vegetables. If you use 2 smaller squash to total 3 pounds, they will cook quicker.) Remove squash and onion from oven and cut the squash lengthwise to accelerate cooling so you can handle. Meanwhile, add the water, cashews, lemon juice, rosemary, sea salt, cinnamon, allspice, and garlic to a blender. Puree until smooth and silky. Remove the skins and seeds from the squash and add the flesh to the blender. Remove the outer tough layer of skin from the onion and add the whole roasted onion to the blender. Puree with the cashew mixture until smooth. (I use my Blendtec. If your blender isn’t large, puree in batches.) If more water is needed, add enough to loosen/thin the mixture and puree again. Transfer the mixture to a pot, scraping the blender with a spatula to loosen all the mixture. Gently heat the soup, season with extra salt if desired, and extra water to thin if you like, then serve. Serves 4.
Spices Note: Children may enjoy this soup without rosemary, and even without the cinnamon and allspice. The caramelized onion and roasted squash add so much flavor! Give it a try if your little ones are at all picky about spices and herbs.
Idea: This soup is so thick it can stand in for a pasta sauce—try in a baked pasta dish!
Serving Suggestions: Try topped with Baconut!
What vegetables or fruits – or other plant foods – are you a little intimidated to try? Let me know, maybe I’ll choose one for my next video.
p.s. If you already have PPF and love this soup (or other recipes) please add a review to amazon, it’s so helpful. And a BIG thanks to all of you that have already shared a 5-start review. Thank you.