Cumin-scented Zucchini Soup

Cumin-scented Zucchini Soup 2013

Growing up, I could tell when we were in diet mode because one of the things that would make it on the menu was zucchini soup. We would rave about how low in calories it was – it’s just zucchini and onions! – and how healthy – it’s just zucchini and onions! While it is those things, the actual reason for eating it was that we really, truly liked it. So zucchini soup has always been in my cooking repertoire.

Recently I changed it up a bit. I added cumin. This might seem like a minor change, but once you take your first bite, you’ll see that cumin’s warm, earthiness grounds this soup and makes it nearly impossible to stop eating. In each bite, you recognize the cumin, but then you need to take just one more bite because you wonder if, maybe, there’s something else. It seems layered, nuanced. That’s the magic of cumin.

Cumin-scented Zucchini Soup

1 tsp. coconut oil

3 medium zucchini, about 1 1/2 lbs.

1/2 yellow onion, chopped

2 cloves of garlic, minced

1 1/2 tsp. cumin

4 c. chicken or vegetable broth

1 tsp. salt

Directions

1) Heat coconut oil over medium heat in a 4-5 qt. soup pot. Add the onion and cook for 3-4 minutes.

2) Cut the zucchini lengthwise into quarters, then into approximately 1 in. pieces, and add them to the onions. Add the garlic and salt and cook for about 8 minutes until beginning to soften.

3) Add the cumin, stir for about 30 seconds, then add 4 cups of broth and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium and cook, uncovered, for about 35 minutes, allowing some of the broth to evaporate and concentrate the flavors.

4) Remove from the heat and use a blender or immersion blender to blend the soup until it is silky smooth. Taste to adjust any seasonings and delight in your diet.

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How to Open (and roast) a Spaghetti Squash

Spaghetti squash is a great vegetable, especially once you stop eating noodles from grain sources. It works as a fairly neutral base, taking just about any flavored sauce and making you feel like you just had pasta. Super comforting! Here’s the catch…the thing is a pain to cut open! I have often thought that if it were easier, I’d eat more of it. And then Halloween came along.

You know those cute little serrated mini-knives that are sold for less than a dollar around this time of year? They are AMAZING at cutting squash open! Guess what else? If you get the fancy (under $3) pumpkin scraper with the teeth to go along with it, you’re in business! Quick and painless. Trust me. Stock up – I did!

Spaghetti Squash tools 2013

Roasted Spaghetti Squash

1 medium spaghetti squash

A few pinches of salt

Directions

1) Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

2) Use the small serrated knife to cut all around the squash, lengthwise. Then crack it open to reveal the seeds. It should be really easy since the little knife has already done all the work. Use the serrated scraper to remove the seeds.

Spaghetti Squash cutting 2013

Spaghetti Squash breaking

Spaghetti squash scraping 2013

3) Sprinkle a little salt on the cut sides and place face-down in a large glass baking dish. Add water to the dish to measure a little less than a 1/4 in. deep. Bake the squash in the oven for about 35-40 minutes. If you squeeze the outside of the squash with tongs, there should be some give, but not squishy. I like mine to be pretty al dente because I will invariably cook it again. BUT if you want yours a little softer, go ahead and leave it in another 5-10 minutes.

Spaghetti Squash with water 2013

4) Let squash cool cut-side up until you can handle it easily. I often bake it whenever I have a moment and leave it to cool – even for a couple hours. Scrape the squash with a fork to make spaghetti-like strands. Reheat before serving.

Spaghetti Squash - Shredding 2013 (2)

Note: This is a great vegetable to roast on the weekend, shred, and store in the fridge. Now you have noodles ready to go. I will almost always microwave, sauté, or otherwise cook them before eating, which is why I like them still firm when I roast them.