It's the start of my favorite season! You know its autumn when the butternut squash specials start rolling out! It is preferred to have this vegetable in its season to assure freshness and potency. Out of season produce, typically has to be shipped long distances, reducing ripeness, flavor, and nutrients. Every autumn, I like to experiment with fall-inspired recipes and this year, I decided on the Chai Butternut Squash Soup. The Chai is optional, but it doesn't hurt to try! There are a variety of recipes you can choose from smoothies to pies and whipped purees to satisfy that sweet tooth while also using healthy and locally grown foods.
2 cups vegetable stock
2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1 carrot, peeled and diced1 apple, cored and diced
1 medium (uncooked) butternut squash*, peeled, seeded and diced
1 small white onion, peeled and diced1/8 teaspoon cayenne or more to taste
1–2 chai tea bags
Freshly-cracked black pepper and nutmeg
1/2 cup coconut milk
Optional garnishes: swirled extra coconut milk and/or a sprinkle of ground cinnamon
SLOW COOKER METHOD:
1. Add vegetable stock, garlic, carrot, apple, butternut squash, onion, cayenne to a small (4-quart) slow cooker or large (6-quart) slow cooker. Toss to combine.
2. Then nestle a chai tea bag (or use two, if you’d like extra chai flavor) into the mixture so that it’s completely submerged in the broth.
3. Cook for 6-8 hours on low, or 3-4 hours on high, or until the squash is completely tender and mashes easily with a fork.
4. Remove and discard the chai tea bag. Use an immersion blender to puree the soup until smooth. (Or you can transfer the soup in two batches into a VITAMIX blender, and puree until smooth, being very careful when working with the hot liquid.)
5. Stir in the coconut milk until combined. Then taste, and season with a few generous pinches of nutmeg, cinnamon, and pepper as needed.
Serve warm, topped with your desired garnishes. Or refrigerate in a sealed container for up to 3 days, or freeze for up to 3 months.