Re: Dairy-Free Roasted Butternut Squash Soup

soup in bowl

Just in time for the fall season, this dairy-free roasted butternut squash soup is one of the most comforting and flavourful soups I’ve had recently. I’ve been testing and developing a few dairy-free and gluten-free recipes since my last food post. Some still need a little tweaking, but this soup was so simple and goof-proof that I just had to share it!

Ingredients:

  • 1 butternut squash
  • Neutral oil (I used grapeseed but you can use whatever you have in stock)
  • 1 can regular coconut milk (I use Arroy-D brand, but use whatever you prefer)
  • Fresh tarragon bunch
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 1-inch ginger
  • 3 allspice whole
  • 1-2 dried bay leaf
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 1-2 tbsp fish sauce 
  • ½ lime juice
  • Salt & pepper

Special equipment:

  • Twine
  • Cheesecloth
  • Ladle 
  • Heatproof blender 

Roasted butternut squash

Procedure:

  1. Cut butternut squash into 4 pieces and clean out the seeds
  2. Preheat the oven to 420 degrees Fahrenheit 
  3. Put butternut squash pieces in a lined baking tray
  4. Slather neutral oil on each piece then season with salt and pepper
  5. Roast for 25 min or until the flesh of the squash is soft throughout but not totally mushy
  6. Set aside to cool 

Soup

Procedure:

  1. Use the cheesecloth and twine to create a bouquet made of tarragon, whole garlic cloves, ginger, dried bay leaf, and whole allspice
  2. In a cold saucepan, combine 1 full can of coconut milk, 1 cup chicken broth and 1-2 tbsp fish sauce
  3. Add the bouquet to the coconut milk mixture 
  4. Let the coconut milk simmer for 30-40 min. Taste the coconut milk mixture for tarragon, garlic and ginger notes. The longer the bouquet steeps in the mixture, the stronger the tarragon taste. 
  5. Once you’re satisfied with the flavour intensity of the coconut mixture, turn off the stove and remove the bouquet but leaving ginger and garlic bits that may have drifted out of the cheesecloth.
  6. In a heatproof blender, put half of the roasted butternut squash and lime juice then ladle in some of the coconut mixture.
  7. Pour out the first batch of the soup into a container then add the remaining butternut squash and coconut mixture to the blender.
  8. Combine both batches in the pitcher then blend to your desired consistency. (I blended mine until it was smooth, with no lumps).
  9. Taste the soup mixture for salt, i.e. does the mixture need more salt? Adjust the seasoning to your preference. 

This soup was super cozy to eat and it stores nicely in the fridge. If you have some chili oil, I recommend garnishing with it to add some heat and another layer of flavour. The best part about this soup is that you can easily switch up the bouquet to whatever spice and herb combo and create a brand new soup! I actually originally planned on using fresh lemon grass but couldn’t find it in the store. Nonetheless, this is what makes cooking fun, at least for me!

Always,

K

Winterlicious 2014

What can I say that hasn’t been already said? Good food + good company = happy K.

That’s the extent I’m going to do math here. It was my first time attending any Winterlicous/Summerlicious Toronto and I’m glad to say that I will definitely do it again! Kudos to the organizers of the event, chefs and other contributors! Although it was definitely cleverly planned, keeping in mind the commerciality and consumerism in Valentine’s Day.

My friends had the chance to participate in the previous events and told me ahead of time about their dislikes in terms of restaurants and the process itself. I had a pretty good idea before choosing which places I wanted to venture of just because I’ve read some reviews and heard about other places already. Here are some tips for anyone attending the next Summerlicious/Winterlicious Toronto with me:

  1. Know when you can make reservations. Tables will be reserved and you might not be able to go to the restaurant you actually wanted to dine in at the date and time you wanted to go.
  2. Consider if you have or don’t have a budget. As a student, my friends and I picked restaurants according to how much we are willing to spend for the meal as well as which restaurants were giving the best deals. For instance, it’s a good opportunity to dine in some high-end restaurants during the period if you’re down on paying $45 for the meal. It’s a good price considering how much it will cost originally. However, if you don’t want to spend as much there are various other excellent options. Both of the meals I went to with my friends were under $30!
  3. Do your RESEARCH! There were 200+ restaurants from the list they provided online and they were organized and presented well. You could view the different restaurants alphabetically or by cuisine. I recommend using the categorization through cuisine. It gives you a good idea of what they have and allows for you to pick what you’re more comfortable with or more daring to try. Once you’ve decided on which cuisine you may want to explore, don’t be scared to GOOGLE them. There is a plethora of sites dedicated for online restaurant reviews or even apps you can download on your phone. Make use of them! However, I do understand that different people have different palates and opinions on things and so I would also recommend to ask any of your friends who may or may not have eaten at the restaurant. Don’t just ask about the food too. Service is a huge aspect when dining. You can have an awesome meal but if the service is bad it does ruin a pretty big chunk of your experience, and that’s what ultimately determines whether you want to be a repeat patron or give good recommendations.
  4. FORGET about your diet and INDULGE yourself even for a little while. When you’re dining in, there’s time in between courses for your stomach to digest the food and so you may even feel full sooner. I’ve read somewhere that it takes about 15 minutes before it registers in your brain that you’re full. So the time between courses when you just chat around with your friends or even eating slowly so you can A. savour the flavours B. enjoy your meal and C. enjoy your friends/family/significant other’s company. Besides, being on diets is overrated. It’s a lifestyle change that needs to take place not just your eating habits; that’s where it starts.

We went to Southern Accent and Bodega. Both places were conveniently located within the vicinity of our campus (University of Toronto, St. George Campus). I would definitely recommend these places for anyone visiting out of town or if you just want to have some good comfort food. The service staffs were good and the ambience of the restaurants genuinely embodied the kind of cuisine they were putting out. I really appreciate a restaurant that knows its identity. For instance, Southern Accent screamed New Orleans culture. The rooms were cozy, vibrant and a little eclectic. It wasn’t a surprise to hear that the owner spent a lot of time in New Orleans absorbing its culture from every facet. After all, it’s the restaurant is over 30 years old. Meanwhile, Bodega took me back to my short time spent in Paris. White linens, deep blues and warm acorn stained woodwork from the fireplace to the bathroom stalls! Clean, simple and sophisticated. It’s a very charming place.

Best,

-K