Soup is, in my humble opinion, a mother’s best friend. Soup warms the spirit as well as the body, and provides hydration as well as food. It can often be a challenge to get young children to drink enough, especially sick ones who need it the most. In our home, we eat soup once or twice a week except in the highest heat of summer. When we feel like we might be getting sick, the first thing we do is drink chicken broth (our recipe is here).
At the bakery, we serve more soup than I ever expected to, even on the steamiest summer days. I finally realized that many of our customers work in air-conditioned, chilled offices all day, so they still crave soup in the summer! Sometimes we like to make a soup full of all of the vegetables of the moment – a minestrone bursting with summer’s bounty. But mostly, we make soups that are very simple. When you use fresh, nutrient-dense organic ingredients, they don’t need the “help” of lots of spices or exotic combinations. On the contrary, the excellence of such ingredients demands restraint from us – the ability to step back and let the true, deep flavors shine.
Soup is also a wonderful way to use up odd bits and pieces – the bones from last night’s steak, the final veggies from this week’s CSA share, a half-full jar of canned tomatoes sitting in the fridge . . . Throw them all in the pot and let the alchemy of soup turn them into gold. Soup ensures that nothing is wasted. Most soups taste better on the second or third day after their made, which is another huge bonus – leftovers for lunch (or dinner).
One beautiful, unexpected benefit of being on a restricted diet is that it’s blown open some of my previous conceptions about what foods I eat at what times of day – my previous ruts of breakfast, lunch, and dinner are quickly disappearing. Before this year, I was a soup lover, but I never would have considered soup for breakfast. And why not? It’s not that far a cry from a breakfast porridge – warm, nourishing, liquid. Everything we truly need to start a chilly morning. Add this to my list of things I love: soup for breakfast.
Butternut Squash Soup
This has been a Wheatberry favorite since we opened. Whenever I tell people the ingredients, they simply don’t believe me, because it’s so simple. The step of roasting the squash is the secret ingredient here - it greatly enhances the sweet nutty flavors of the squash. Believe it, and let this soup warm you all winter long!
1 butternut squash (you could also use Kabocha, sweet dumpling, or Buttercup)
4 cups water (you can use part chicken broth if desired)
Cut off the ends of your butternut squash, and cut it in half down its length. Scoop the seeds and stringy flesh out from the hollow. Place squash halves, cut side facing down, on a baking sheet, and roast at 400 F for about an hour, until the squash is completely soft when poked with a fork. Set aside to cool partially, and while it’s still warm, peel off the skin, if desired. At home, we just blend up the skin, too. (You can roast your squash ahead.)
Place about 1 cup of squash puree and 1 cup of water into a blender or food processor and blend until completely smooth and silky. Repeat until it’s all blended up. In a soup pot, bring squash puree to a simmer. Allow the soup to simmer for at least 10 minutes – you will notice it visibly thicken as the squash absorbs some of the liquid. Add more water or broth if necessary – the soup should be thin enough to easily run off a spoon, not clumpy. Add salt to taste. And enjoy!
If you want to fancy it up, you can serve this soup with a drizzle of browned butter and a fresh sage leaf on top.