Last year, my idea to execution ratio was dismal. I had so much planned for the blog, and followed through on very little of it.
Among the notebook scrawlings and mid-subway ride sticky notes started: a beginner’s guide to organ meats (they really help your organs!), a wellness-project style investigation into the best natural tooth care, a collection of lactation recipes for new moms, a homemade beef jerky how-to, and a series of back pocket creamy soups for every season.
I decided that my theme for 2017 is going to be action. And the first step to chipping away at that blog to-do list is this vegan butternut squash soup.
The big reason why so many of my ideas—especially the wellness-related ones—got swept to the wayside is that I spent most of the year with my head underwater working on The Wellness Project book! I’m hoping that come May, when you have that sucker in your hands, that this will be a worthy excuse?
Writing a book—or, at least, writing a book commissioned by a publisher—includes a lot of “hurry up and wait.” Beyond the initial deadline (roughly a year from the time of the deal), you’re not given much of a road map for how the rest of the process works. Having written one before, albeit a cookbook, I had more of a clue about how to retro time things. But what I’ve learned this second go-round is that so much depends on your editor’s schedule, what other books are in the pipeline in your category, and a whole host of other contingencies (mercury in retrograde can be a bitch!).
My pub date got pushed back three times over the course of 2016, further into the Spring of this year, which meant that the creative writing portion got stretched to two whole years! Ultimately, I’ll have a much better book to show for that extra time. But it meant that 2016 also felt like one long holding pattern, with plenty of time for obsessing, self-doubt and, well, ideas without execution!
That’s officially in the past now, though. And not just because it’s a new year, and a new ME. But because yesterday I handed in the copyedited manuscript!
I did a lot of ugly crying in a coffee shop as I wrote the acknowledgments section. It hit me how real and final the book just became. But also how many people lent a hand along the way.
I’m so grateful for all your virtual encouragement, compassionate typo feedback, and for simply showing up despite my not feeding you the same volume of content. Thank you for sharing your own health struggles and making me feel that I wasn’t alone in mine. And big time gratitude to my Healthy Hedonist Guinea Pig Group for your eagerness to be part of the challenges, and for your forgiveness when I realized I didn’t have the bandwidth to support you and write a book at the same time. I promise to make it up to you with more programs and challenges this Spring!
I’ll be celebrating this milestone for real when my dry January is over, and hopefully I’ll have a galley in hand by then! In the meantime though, I’m going to be using this month to really re-commit to my health.
I know, I know. That’s what they all say! But the second half of January I’m going to do something I haven’t explored in over five years: an elimination diet. Pop by the blog later this week for a deep dive into all the options surrounding this process, and where I net out in terms of my omissions (I’m not sure yet!).
If there’s ever been a recipe that covers all your dietary bases, it’s this butternut squash soup (well, except you FODMAP-ers. Sorry!). It’s vegan, paleo and all the “free’s,” while still being creamy AF. Roasting the squash whole means the cook time takes a little longer, but it also means you won’t start 2017 with orange hand leprosy.
The ingredient list is simple as can be, which always means an easy prep session before you start cooking. The crispy topping of brussels sprouts and scallions roast in the oven at the same time as the squash, and both will be ready to roll by the time you’re done sautéing your aromatics stovetop. And speaking of that crispy topping: have I mentioned it’s insane? Oniony shoestring fries = life.
In conclusion: this Vegan Butternut Squash Soup is a total winner for these cold dog days of winter, no matter what you’re eliminating from your diet, or what milestones you’re celebrating in tandem. I hope it finds a warm place in your home, and if so, show me!! Anytime you comment or post about a recipe you’ve made it’s like drinking an unparalleled smoothie of dopamine!
Thanks for sticking with me through a crazy year, friends. On we go!
From one healthy hedonist, to another,
Vegan Butternut Squash Soup with Crispy Brussels Sprouts and Ginger
- One 2 1/2 to 3 pound butternut squash
- Olive oil
- Sea salt
- 1/3 pound Brussels sprouts, halved and thinly sliced/shredded
- 1 bunch scallions, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
- 1 medium red onion, thinly sliced
- 2 garlic cloves, crushed
- 1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger root
- 1/2 teaspoon red chili flakes
- 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
- One 14-ounce can full fat coconut milk
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
Cut the squash in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and arrange cut-side down on one parchment paper lined baking sheet. Roast until a fork easily goes into the thick end, about 45 minutes. Remove from the oven and set aside until cool enough to touch.
Meanwhile, toss the Brussels sprouts and scallions with 1 tablespoon olive oil and 1/2 teaspoon sea salt. Arrange in an even layer and roast in the oven until crispy, about 15 minutes. Set aside.
In a large stockpot or Dutch oven, heat 1 tablespoon of oil. Add the onions and sauté until translucent, 5 minutes. Stir in the garlic, ginger, and chili flakes and cook until fragrant, 1 more minute. Scoop the flesh of the cooled squash from the skins and add to the pot along with the cider vinegar, coconut milk and 1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt. Fill the can with water and swish it around to get the remaining coconut milk off the sides and add to the pot. Fill the can once more and add. (You’ll have about 4 cups of water total.) Bring to a boil and simmer for ten minutes for the flavors to incorporate. Transfer the soup to a blender (or use an immersion blender) and puree until smooth. Taste for seasoning and add more salt as necessary.
Ladle the soup into four bowls and garnish with the crispy brussels sprout scallion mixture.