Wowzers ya’ll! I was seriously astounded by the response from the last post – I had no idea that my “everyday meal” would cause such a stir and ignite so much inspiration! I am thrilled to hear your feedback about the Abundance Bowl and to learn that you are all pretty pumped about healthy, simple meals. Gosh, I should post about that stuff more often. Oh wait! That is exactly what I am going to do today.
So, I have this technique of making soup that takes major shortcuts in the kitchen – I call it “oven soup”. Why? Because most of the work is done in the oven by roasting the main ingredients together, then throwing them into a blender with hot water or broth and spices. Ta-daa! No need to dirty even a single pot! I like this method because it’s really simple and most of the cooking time is completely unattended. All you need to do is prep the veggies, pop them in a hot oven and walk away until everything is ready to blend. I boil water in the kettle and use a high-quality bullion instead of stock more often than not, to keep things even easier.
I have been making this soup for years now. It’s really easy, inexpensive and features two of my all-time favourite foods: butternut squash and turmeric. Roasting the squash, onions and garlic caramelizes their natural sugars, and deepens the flavours substantially – much tastier than just boiling them! The turmeric adds a peppery citrus flavour that goes really well with the herbs, if you decide to use them.
And then there are the Smoky Chickpea Croutons. These make a stupendous snack on their own, but are also delicious atop this golden soup. Got a salad that needs snazzing up? What about an Abundance Bowl? You can toss these on anything. I’d even suggest keeping a jar near your desk or in the car to grab a handful when those afternoon cravings hit. They are a healthy, high-fiber, protein-rich snack that is way better than anything you’d get out of a vending machine.
Turmeric: The Golden Child
Let’s make a New Years resolution together: eat more turmeric! Why? Because this humble little rhizome is a super food with serious superpowers.
Turmeric is a rhizome that comes from the Curcuma longa plant, with brown skin and shockingly bright orange flesh. It’s this pigment that gives curry powder its distinctive hue, and ballpark mustard that famous yellow glow. Curcumin, the primary ingredient in turmeric that is responsible for its golden colour, has important antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and healing properties. It protects the liver form toxins and congestion, lowers cholesterol, reduces menstrual pain, and even helps soothe an upset tummy by aiding digestion and ridding the system of gas and distention.
Turmeric also speeds up the healing of wounds, both on the inside and out! To make an effective pain killer and cut healer, simply mix one teaspoon of ground turmeric powder with enough ghee, olive oil or coconut oil to make a paste and spread over the cut. Adding grated ginger to the paste will help decrease pain and increase its ability to heal. Turmeric is wonderful on burns as well, which I know from my days working in a professional kitchen! Mix one teaspoon ground turmeric powder with one teaspoon fresh aloe vera gel, apply to the burnt area and keep open to the air. Reapply as needed.
The flavour of turmeric is relatively mild – warm, slightly bitter and peppery with notes of orange and ginger. I find that it is delicious in everything from savoury stews and dressings, to sweet smoothies and raw desserts! Seriously. The fresh root is much more delicious than the dried version, simply because it has more depth and character. Finding fresh turmeric may be difficult however if you do not live near an ethnic market, but the dried powder is widely available. If possible, get your hands on freshly ground turmeric that hasn’t been sitting on your grocery store’s shelf for months on end.
To store fresh turmeric, wrap tightly in plastic wrap and keep for one week in the refrigerator. To store dried turmeric, keep powder in a tightly sealed glass container away from heat and light – not right next to the stove for example. This will preserve the flavour and medicinal qualities, which I know you’re interested in now!
Gold Rush Butternut Soup with Smoky Chickpea Croutons
1 large butternut squash
2 large yellow onions
8 cloves garlic
2 tsp. ghee or coconut oil, plus olive oil for garnish
1 tsp. both sea salt and cracked black pepper (to taste)
3-4 cups / 750-1000ml vegetable broth
1 Tbsp. grated fresh turmeric or 2 tsp. ground turmeric powder
2 tsp. each fresh / 1 tsp dried rosemary and thyme (optional)
1 batch Smoky Chickpea Croutons (recipe below)
1. Preheat oven to 400°F.
2. Peel and cube the butternut squash and place on a baking sheet. Peel and cut onions into quarters, add to baking sheet. Peel whole cloves of garlic and add to baking sheet. Drizzle with melted ghee or coconut oil and toss well to coat. Sprinkle with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Place in oven and roast for approximately 30 minutes until the squash is tender and the garlic is golden.
3. In a large blender pour 3 cups hot vegetable broth, turmeric (fresh or dried) and add the finely chopped rosemary and thyme. Carefully add the roasted vegetables and blend on high until completely smooth (let blender run for a minute or so). If the soup is too thick, add more broth to thin to desired consistency. Season to taste.
4. Pour soup into bowls and serve with a sprinkling of chickpea croutons and a drizzle of olive oil. If necessary, pour into a large pot to reheat if necessary. Keeps for 3 days in the fridge. Freezes well.
Smoky Chickpea Croutons
3 cups or 2 cans cooked chickpeas – drained and well-rinsed
3 Tbsp. coconut oil
1 tsp. coarse sea salt
1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
2 tsp. ground cumin
2 tsp. smoked paprika or ground chipotle pepper
1 tsp. garlic powder
1. Preheat oven to 400°F/200°C.
2. Spread chickpeas out on a clean tea towel and rub them dry, discarding any loose skins. Place the chickpeas in a medium bowl and toss with coconut oil, seasoning and spices until coated.
3. Spread the chickpeas on a large rimmed baking sheet lined with parchment paper and roast, stirring occasionally, until golden and crisp. This takes about 25-35 minutes. Please note that the chickpeas will crisp up outside of the oven quite a bit, so if they are still a little soft when you take them out of the oven, that is okay.
4. Remove from the oven. Let cool, and serve at room temperature. Store in an airtight glass container for up to one week.
Again, I just want to say a big THANK YOU for your positive feedback. Besides eating more turmeric, another one of my New Year’s resolutions is to connect with you, the readers, more often. I really like hearing what you have to say and appreciate your thoughts, advice and inquiries. As soon as this cookbook is written (I hand it in March 1st!!!), I am going to send out my question to you: What do you want to learn about together? So, in the meantime, give that some thought. I look forward to that day very much.
With a golden turmeric embrace,