Squish (Squash) Soup
In our house, we call squash squish. Why? Because when PayPay FunFun was teeny-tiny (not quite two years old), she called it squish…and shit like that tends to stick, at least around here.
We’re all about efficiency up in here, so I prefer to use leftovers for soup whenever possible. I’ve found that soups are better when allowed to simmer for several hours, so I usually make them on non-work days.
For example, I wanted to have soup on for New Years day, since we were all going to be home together. New Years fell on a Monday this year, so for dinner on Sunday we had roasted squish with rice.
While we ate dinner, time and heat dissipation did it’s thing and the leftover squash went from hot to slightly warm – perfect for handling and for shoving into the food processor. While my husband did the dishes (as he always does. He’s fucking awesome.), I put the leftover squash into the food processor and turned it into squish puree. I scraped the squish goo into a glass bowl, covered it with my beeswax paper, and put it into the fridge for the next day.
We rolled outta bed around 9:00 am on New Year’s Day. (Here’s where I take a minute to be thankful for kids who are old enough to A. enjoy sleeping in, and 2. get their own damned breakfast and let us sleep in.) We had our toast and coffee, and then I took the leftover squash out of the fridge and started chopping shit up. By noon, the soup was tasty af as fuck, but we didn’t eat until around 3:00 because simmering is good for soup.
I love soup. I think I always have, although I don’t recall any particularly stellar soup-eating experiences from my childhood, so it’s altogether possible that soup and I didn’t meet until I was living on my own. At some point, way back when I was a baby adult, I started making my own. I don’t recall “learning” how to make it, or deciding to make it…it honestly wasn’t a memorable event.
All of that is to say I’ve always been more of a “guess-n-test” kinda cook. Throw a bunch of shit into a soup cooking thing, taste it, add stuff, taste, repeat – until those adjustments have made something so tasty that you want to roll around in it. I’m trying to get better at tracking what I put into a dish, so as to share the magic…but really, with things like soup, especially, express yourself! Take some creative liberties. It won’t always come out great, but more often than not, it will.
Squish Squash Soup
A sweet and savory blended soup, similar to (a copycat?) Panera's Creamy Squash Soup, but yummier.
- 6 cups cooked butternut squash (or about 1.5 whole) acorn squash works just as well
- 1 carton salt-free vegetable stock + 2 cups water OR 2 tbsp Penzey's vegetable soup base + 6 cups water
- 32 oz (1 bag) frozen carrots, thawed OR 2 cans salt-free carrots
- 1 cup unsweetened applesauce
- 2 yellow onions
- 2 tbsp frozen orange juice concentrate OR 2 whole navel oranges, pureed
- 2 cups soy milk OR whatever non-dairy milk you have on hand
- 1 tbsp vanilla extract
- 2 red bell peppers
- 2 tsp Penzey's Now Curry blend
- 1 tsp Penzey's Sweet Curry
- 2 tsp Penzey's Old world Spice
- 1/2 tsp Penzey's Ginger (powdered)
- 1 tsp turmeric
Remove your leftover squash from the refrigerator. Just set it aside and let it begin to come to room temperature.
Or, you can start by roasting the squash, and then let it cool down long enough to handle. In which case, you just added like 2 hours to this process.
Give the onion a rough chop: since everything is going to be blended up, you don't need to make it pretty - just manageable.
Heat up about 1 tbsp of water and the vanilla in a shallow pan, add onions and saute* until translucent. Add water as needed.
*If you're feeling extra fancy, caramelize those fuckers. It'll give the soup an extra depth. This is a pretty good explanation for how to caramelize onions, although it does use butter, which I don't do. I find that using water + vanilla works as a great substitute to butter, and I always deglaze once with water.*
Chop the bell peppers into half (ish) inch pieces.
Toss them in with the cooked onions, just for a couple-few minutes, until they're a little bit less than raw, but not squishy. They just need to be soft enough to blend.
*If you got fancy and chose to caramelize the onions this part will make your veggies look pretty ugly - the peppers + the caramel-y onions = chunky slimy goo mess. Just trust me: they'll taste fucking fantastic.
Remove the onion/pepper goo from heat and set aside. It will begin to cool.
Check your carrot situation, since you'll be grabbing that shit as soon as the onions are done.
If you're using frozen carrots, make sure they're thawed now. If not, toss them into the microwave for about 20 seconds at a time. They don't need to be warm, just soft.
If you're using canned, open those fuckers up and drain them.
** We're not putting carrot into squish soup for their flavor, but for the color and nutritional value of them. Don't get me wrong - they're super fucking tasty, but they're also pretty mild, so add as many/much as you want. I've even tripled this amount just to stretch the soup farther - without fucking up the taste.
If you're using Penzey's vegetable soup base (it's stupid good and lower in sodium than any pre-packaged broth I've seen) now is a good time to boil about a cup of water. You'll need a small amount to dissolve the soup base (it's a thick paste) into. Using a small amount just makes it easier to ensure that all of the paste is dissolved. You're basically making a soup broth concentrate.
Put your vegetable stock and water into a soup kettle/pot/cauldron (whatever you use) and give it a little stir. Don't start heating it yet.
** If you're using Penzey's vegetable soup base, you've already dissolved the paste into the boiling water and created your soup broth concentrate. Put it into your pot with 5 more cups of water. Don't start heating it yet.
Use a blender or food processor, puree the cooked squash and add to your soup broth. Add a bit of water as you go to keep the consistency thick, but smooth.
Depending on the size and power of your blending tool, you may want to do this about a cup at a time. Just scrape the blended squish into the soup pot as you go.
Puree/blend the onion, pepper, carrots, oranges (or orange juice concentrate) soymilk, and applesauce. Add to the soup kettle (pot?).
These don't need to be blended all together. They just need to be blended. Hell, you can puree each item separately for all I care. So do. (50 gold stars if you get the Charlie Kelly reference.)
Now start dumping all of the spices and vanilla into the soup pot. (I'm just sticking with pot.) Stir with a wooden spoon to incorporate. If you have a stick blender, get that bitch out and stick it in - before the soup gets hot.
Now turn the heat on low and simmer, stirring whenever you think of it. It generally takes about half an hour for mine to heat up all of the way, but the longer you simmer, the tastier the soup will be.