For the last few years, I’ve gone to an “Empty Bowls” event in support of the local food bank. If you’ve never experienced this kind of evening, you should definitely look for one in your area.
The events are always in support of local organizations dedicated to helping the hungry, whether it’s a shelter, food bank or drop-in centre. Local potters donate their hand-crafted bowls, and restaurants donate soup and bread. Your ticket buys you the bowl of your choice, and access to taste as many of the soups as you like. There’s also a team on hand to rinse and dry your bowl between servings.
It’s always a warm environment, in every way; people always share which of the soups they liked the best, making recommendations for what to try next. This year, I also had the privilege of sharing my table with a local farmer. He was rather old school when it came to farming, meaning he “doesn’t do that organic stuff”, but I could have chatted with him all night.
I did, however, feel a little guilty. My friend had an “in” with one of the organizers, who let us pick out our bowls the night before because we weren’t going to be able to make it until the last half of the evening. Little did I know this would result in some major bowl envy! As I went from station to station, I could see and hear people oohing and ahhing about my bowl. When I left it unattended for a couple of minutes to chat with someone I met at last year’s event, my farmer friend warned me that if I’d waited any longer to come back, it may not have been there.
By far, my favourite soup of the evening was Butternut Squash Coconut. Two favourite things in one warm (and lovely) bowl? And totally vegan? Yeah-huh! Despite the sloshing in my belly on my way home, I was inspired and immediately had to figure this one out. I know, a lot of my posts so far have been soup-centred, but it’s getting cold out there!
Butternut Squash Coconut Soup
Serves 6 to 8
1 butternut squash
1 tbsp coconut oil
1 sweet onion, diced
1 medium apple, peeled and diced
2 cups vegetable stock
2 tsp mild curry powder
2 tsp fresh ginger (or more to taste)
2 tsp lemon juice
1 can light coconut milk (14 oz)
Salt and pepper to taste
1. Roast the squash: preheat oven to 350 degrees. Peel squash, cut in half and remove seeds. Place cut-side down in a glass container and cover with foil. Bake for 30 to 45 minutes or until fork tender. When cool, chop and set aside.
2. Heat the coconut oil in a large pot. Sautee the onion over medium heat until translucent.
3. Add the apple, squash, spices and lemon juice. Bring to a simmer until apples are tender.
4. Place the contents into a blender or food processor, or use an immersion blender and puree until smooth.
5. Return the contents to the pot and add the coconut milk and bring back up to heat. Add salt and pepper as needed.