Last weekend MLB ( Meat-lovin’ Boyfriend) and I had my parents and their foreign exchange student from France (tres chic, oui!) over for dinner. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE hosting dinners, but this is not an easy feat when you add in everyone’s dietary restrictions (or lack there-of) nowadays. This particular bunch included a party of three meat, cheese n’ bread lovers, one with Celiac’s disease (no gluten) and sans dairy, and then of course moi (no animal products or gluten of any sort!) Phew…What’s an HIT (hostess in training ) to do?
It took me awhile, but I finally came up with a genius idea- soup! Yes, you heard me right- creamy, bright, gorgeous acorn squash soup. Soup is actually a great concept for a dish when you are hosting a dinner because you can start it early on before guests arrive and then let it simmer for hours to let it develop flavors while you set to work on the rest of the meal, getting ready, etc. Plus I already knew this soup would be a hit as I’ve made it several times per MLB’s request (it’s his favorite)!
The original recipe ( adapted from Ina Garten) was not exactly vegan-friendly but nowadays it’s so easy to substitute without sacrificing flavor! A little earth balance instead of butter, coconut milk swapped for cream, sub chicken stock for vegetable and voila! The soup is best paired with cheesy homemade croutons which I did in two batches (one with a baguette and gruyere cheese for those meat n’cheese lovers) and one with gluten-free bread and daiya cheddar.
I don’t wanna toot my own horn or anything , but yeah, this soup was a huge hit (even Frenchie liked it!) and I’m still riding a high from all the compliments and praises. So without further adieu, le recipe-
Creamy Acorn Squash Soup with Cheesy Croutons- Serves 5
2 tablespoons earth balance butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 diced yellow onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 (15-ounce) can pumpkin purée
1 acorn squash, peeled and cut into chunks
3-4 cups vegetable stock
2 teaspoons sea salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 can coconut milk
1 tablespoon earth balance butter
3 slices gluten free bread, cut in half
Shredded Daiya Cheddar to top
1. Heat the butter and oil in a heavy-bottomed stockpot, add the onions, and cook over medium-low heat for 10 minutes, or until onions are translucent. Add minced garlic to the top of the onions and cook an additional minute.
2. Add the pumpkin purée, acorn squash, vegetable stock, 1 tsp of the salt, and pepper. Cover and simmer over medium-low heat for an hour or two, until the acorn squash is very tender. Process the mixture, in batches, using a blender. WARNING- blend in small batches (so there’s room left at the top of the blender) and be sure to let the hot air escape so you don’t have any explosions on your hands. Return to the pot, add the coconut milk, and heat slowly.
3. Add the remaining tsp salt and 1 tbsp pure grade b maple syrup (this adds a hint of sweetness).
4. For croutons, pre-heat oven to 350F. Melt a tbsp butter in a medium-skillet over medium heat. Add sliced bread to skillet. When toasted on one side, flip and toast for a few minutes, or until golden brown. Take off the heat, top pieces of bread with daiya cheese shreds and transfer to oven for 5 minutes, or until cheese is melted. Serve soup hot with melty, cheesy croutons, a simple green salad and top with some chives for good measure.