Whenever possible, I do my best to eat according to the season. Sticking to seasonally available foods has been shown to be ideal for the planet, but it’s also the best to support our bodies and easiest on our bank balances. Eating seasonally is simply less expensive than eating out-of-season fruits and vegetables.
If you pay attention to your body’s cravings or what foods attract your notice at the store, you’ll be surprised that your body knows what’s best—it usually steers you in the right direction. The trouble spots occur for me and the clients I cook for when we begin to transition seasons. Those few weeks when summer is becoming autumn or when winter is becoming spring require a bit more diligence at the grocery store and a little more creativity in the kitchen. You’re easing your body from one season to another, and holistically, this can be felt on an intrinsic level—mind, body, and spirit—and I would opine that it can be most keenly felt and seen in the kitchen.
Moving into spring is the hardest for me. I can’t wait for the fresh greens, the detoxification found in local radishes, the taste of the first herbs and the smell of dirt and rain that signal more abundance is coming. The trouble is being patient while we wait. And March? March is the month of waiting. March is the month where freshness is just beginning to trickle in but only enough for a small taste of what is to come once April arrives. March is the month of using the last of the winter vegetables and beginning the mindful transition of seasons.
I’d like to share a recipe that I feel is a beautiful March recipe. It marries the heartiness of winter squash with the flavour that can only come from fresh herbs, more readily available now as we move away from the winter months. I hope you enjoy this as much as I do!
Herbed Squash Bisque
Serves 4 as a main course or 6 as a side dish/starter
This bisque is deliciously thick and creamy without any added dairy, and because it’s a blended soup the prep work is simple and comes together very quickly—no worries about cutting everything perfectly. Just chop, measure, simmer and blend. Done!
- 350 g butternut squash*, peeled and cubed (approximately 2 ½ cups)
- 200 g cauliflower florets (approximately 2 heaping cups)
- 3 shallots or 1 small onion, roughly diced
- 2 garlic cloves
- 1 tsp sea salt
- 1 tbsp maple syrup
- 2 cups vegetable broth
- 2 cups water
- 1 tbsp fresh herbs, ripped or minced (I enjoy this soup with sage or thyme. When I can find it, fresh savory is especially delicious!)
- ½ cup canned full-fat coconut milk**
- Additional herbs or coconut milk for serving, if desired
- Cut and weigh your squash and cauliflower on a kitchen scale. If you don’t have one, use the approximate measurements instead.
- Place all the ingredients except for the coconut milk in a saucepan or pot and bring to a boil.
- Lower to a simmer and cook until the vegetables are cooked through and the flavours have blended. You should be able to smell the fragrant fresh herbs!
- Turn off the heat and let the soup cool a bit before you begin blending*** in small batches. I suggest blending a small batch and pouring it into another pot or into a large bowl before beginning another small batch. In one of the batches, add in the ½ cup of coconut milk.
- Once you’re finished blending the entire pot bring it back up to a low simmer on the stove to fully incorporate the flavours and the coconut milk.
- The bisque should coat the back of a spoon when you’re finished—not too thick, not too thin. You may add more broth or coconut milk if it’s too thick but you may need to adjust the seasonings afterwards.
- Taste the soup for seasoning and add salt if needed. At this point, you can serve it with additional fresh herbs or a swirl of coconut milk on the top of each bowl, if desired.
* Other squash could work here as well! Use whatever you have on hand. I often make this with fresh pumpkin, but nearly any winter squash could be substituted for the butternut.
** I’ve made this soup with other milks as well when an allergen-free meal was required. Rice milk is thinner than coconut milk and will result in a slightly thinner bisque but very few people are allergic to rice.
*** I make this bisque in a high-powered blender. If you’re using a regular blender you may want to cook the vegetables a little longer than usual in order to make blending them easier. You may also need a little more liquid while blending.
by Molly Murphy