Simple vegan winter squash soup

September 30, 2021 at 10:04 pm (B plus (3 stars, like a lot)) ()

This is another base recipe from Amy Chaplin’s Whole Food Cooking Every Day. Compared to the Cook’s Illustrated butternut squash soup recipe I used to make, it’s much simpler, and much less rich.

All you do is saute some onion in a large pot, add some garlic and salt, then the squash (unpeeled if you’re using red kuri as I was, and cut into large cubes) and water. You simmer the squash until it crushes easily against the side of the pot (around 12 to 15 minutes). You let it cool slightly then puree in batches in an upright blender. Done. The soup had a lovely smooth texture, bright color, and a simple, clean taste. It reminds me a lot of the squash soup I got years ago at Hangawi in New York City. The flavor was just a tad boring, but I guess that’s what I get for making the base version. It was better when we added chili flakes to it. Roasted pepitas or a drizzle of pumpkin seed oil would have also been nice. Next time I should make one of the variations, like squash soup with ginger, turmeric and miso or rosemary squash soup with toasted-hazelnut milk. You can find the base recipe and the hazelnut variation here.

This recipe made a ton of soup. (The recipe says it makes 2.5 quarts.) The three of us ate it for dinner, then Derek and I each had a bowl for lunch, and I still had quite a bit to freeze. It says it freezes well, so I’m looking forward to pulling it out one night when I’m in a rush and need a hot vegetable-based appetizer or side dish.

Alma seemed to enjoy it. At least she ate it without complaint and had a small bowl for seconds.

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No-bake sesame chocolate squares

September 30, 2021 at 9:48 pm (B plus (3 stars, like a lot), Brownies and bars, Granola & energy bars, Website / blog)

In one of my parenting groups someone was raving about these no-bake chocolate sesame squares from the book Sugarproof. I love sesame in desserts, and I love chocolate, so I had to try them.

The recipe is pretty simple, you just dump 8 oz of pitted dates in a food processor along with 3/4 cup sesame seeds, 1/3 cup tahini, 1/2 cup rolled oats, 1/3 cup cocoa powder, 2 Tbs. water, and a pinch of salt. You pulse it all until the mixture starts to pull away from the sides of the food processor and collect towards the center. My mixture didn’t pull away, even after quite a while. I had to add quite a bit more water to get it to congeal into a solid mass. But other than that the bars came out well. They remind me a lot of Lara bars, just sesame flavored. I’ve tried to make “halvah balls” before without so much success. These had a better texture, if less halvah-esque.

I gave one bar to Alma in her school snack and she told me it was very good. I’m going to freeze the rest and bring them out occasionally when we are in the mood for something sweet and chocolatey.

Also, one more note. A full 8oz of dates is a lot! I guess if you don’t use refined sweeteners you need a lot of dates to make it taste sweet like a dessert.

Update Jan 18, 2022: We finally finished the whole batch of frozen bars. Although Alma said they were very good on her first try, she never liked them after that. Oh well. I still really like them, especially when they have been sitting out for a while. Cold from the freezer they aren’t as gooey and chocolatey. I will definitely make these again for myself!

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