Happy 2014, everyone! I hope yours is off to a good start. Weather notwithstanding, January has been much better than December for me. And that’s even with not drinking all month. And those of you who know me or read this blog regularly know that this is not normal for me. And I don’t miss the alcohol as much as something else…
I’ve been pining for winter. I shouldn’t complain, really, but while the rest of the United States is being frozen by the “polar vortex”, the same weather condition is making it hot and bothered here in California.
I’ve given up hoping that it will even rain. It’s going to be 80°F next week for three days. I’m worried that the entire city of Santa Barbara will spontaneously combust at any moment. And I’ll be honest—sunny days with cloudless skies do not make me feel in the Christmas spirit at all, which made my December a bit miserable.
Again, I shouldn’t complain, and I have lived in this area for much of my life, so I don’t know why I’m that shocked. It’s just that the heat doesn’t usually last this long—yes, a week here and there, but months? Can’t we have season-appropriate weather? I will confess that when it gets below 60°F here in Southern California, people wear stupid things like wool scarves, shorts with UGG boots and socks with sandals. They have no idea how to drive in the rain, and rain that is predicted to last more than overnight is labeled a “stormwatch”. Dramatically.
Calm down, people. Have you ever been to…oh, I don’t know, ANYWHERE else? This kind of weather shift happens often and, I promise you, it’s not the sign that Armageddon is on it’s way.
I wish I could send some of this heat to the ice-locked Midwest. In the meantime, I guess I’ll pretend it’s August.
But it was slightly less hot for a few days, and I managed to make some soup. It’s warming without being heavy, as the apple really brightens the flavor. The second time I served it, I sautéed some Brussels sprouts with bacon and added them to the top of the soup like a garnish, which worked really well. You could also add some toasted almonds to the top to give it some crunch.
- 1 large butternut squash, peeled and cut into large chunks
- 3 whole carrots, peeled and cut into large chunks
- 4 small parsnips, peeled and cut into large chunks
- 1½ tablespoons almond oil
- 3 tablespoons bacon fat (or oil, for vegetarian/vegan version)
- 1 yellow onion, chopped
- 1 Braeburn apple, chopped
- 6 fresh sage leaves
- 4 cloves garlic, peeled and coarsely chopped
- 4 cups homemade chicken or vegetable stock
- 1 cup full fat coconut milk or coconut yogurt
- 1.5 teaspoons salt
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon cumin
Preheat your oven to 350° F. Toss squash and carrots with almond oil, and arrange in a baking dish and roast uncovered for 35 minutes or until tender.
In a large stock pot or dutch oven over medium heat, heat bacon fat or oil. Add the onion and apple to the dutch oven or stock pot and sauté over medium heat until tender, about 5 minutes. Add sage and garlic and cook for another 3 minutes.
Add the roasted butternut squash, parsnips, carrots, apple, sage, chicken or vegetable broth and coconut milk to dutch oven or stock pot and bring to a boil, stirring often. Remove from heat and use an immersion blender to blend your soup or, working in several small batches, blend soup in a food processor or blender until smooth. Add more stock if it’s too thick for your liking.