Sweet and Spicy Squash Noodle Soup

EARLER TONIGHT, I FOLLOWED TIM OUT OUR KITCHEN DOOR and down the driveway to the garage, where we both got in the car. He turned the key in the ignition, looked at me and asked, “Where are we going?” and I shrugged with a “Anywhere you want!” So he backed out passed the chain link fence where our neighbor’s flowers grow and the giant bush sprouts a spider’s web longer than my height, pointing the car anywhere and nowhere, warm Tennessee air flowing through our open windows.

We followed I-24 West to Shelby, which is a confusing thing to say because Shelby is East Nashville, and we live in South Nashville, but to get there you take I-24 West. In East Nashville, we cruised down Gallatin and eventually down the street where I used to live, passed my old yellow bungalow that I already have a hard time remembering, just over two years after I left. And somewhere between the piece of pumpkin vegan cake we ended up sharing from Wild Cow on the Jeni’s patio and the soup bones we ended up buying at the grocery store in Green Hills, I turned to Tim and said the thing to which a lot of you will probably relate. “I have to tell you something,” I said to him in the now-darkness of this September Thursday night. “I’m just not sure what’s true about health anymore.”

pot of vegetable soup

As anyone who knows Tim will tell you, my husband is a patient man, and what followed was little more than a nodding head and an “I understand that” and a short discussion while he parked the car. He knows, like I know, that the thing about nutrition and health is that the deeper you go with it, the more questions that arise. Our bodies are complex. Everybody’s is different. We’ve all been through different things, gone through different things. The way something affects you might not be the way that something affects me. There are a million and one experts about the a million and one issues, and most of us who care at all about the power of food on the body have seen enough people contradicting each other to want to throw our hands up in the air. And in our particular case, because of the nature of Tim’s work, friends often come to us, with a cold or a breakout or a spot on their feet, and want to know, casually over coffee or lunch, what to take or do to fix it. Most people want a quick cure, a pill to pop, but the answers that come from whole foods don’t work that way. Our bodies are complex. Healing them takes time.

All of that is mostly to say that I’m amazed by the way we’re made, and I’m amazed by the way my husband talks to me, and, also, I’m grateful for the things that don’t feel confusing. Why one person gets cancer when another doesn’t may seem random, but the effect that switching to real foods has on the body doesn’t. I am sure, both by study and by experience, that eating whole foods makes you feel better and makes you think clearer and is fairly addictive.

I am also sure that taking a bunch of vegetables, cooking them together in a pot to create a rich and flavorful stock, and eating it for lunch is a pretty good way to spend a September afternoon.

sweet and spicy squash soup

We first made this soup last week, when I was a little under the weather and wanted something comforting to eat. We were after a sort of pho-like stock, the kind of thing so flavorful it’s easy to slurp down, and I think what we achieved came pretty close. I made it again this afternoon, switching up some of the vegetables, and it was just as nice. Instead of traditional pasta noodles, we used the spaghetti squash that keeps popping up in our CSA, and I think now that soups like these are my favorite way to have that sort of squash.





Sweet and spicy spaghetti squash noodle soup
Makes six to eight hearty servings

The vegetables you use in this soup are very flexible. The first time, we nixed the onion and green pepper in the beginning and instead added 1/2 pound of chopped green peppers and 1/2 a chopped tomato with the broth, letting the mixture cook a little longer all together. Either way works. Add any vegetables you want to sauté in the beginning step; any any you want to boil in the second. As written below, all the vegetables cook together. Feel free to adapt and adjust based on what you have on hand.

Ingredients:
1 large spaghetti squash
1 tablespoon coconut oil for roasting squash

1 tablespoon coconut oil for soup
3 carrots, peeled and chopped
2 stalks of celery, chopped
1 onion, peeled and diced
1 green pepper, seeded, stem removed, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, grated
1/2 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste at the end
1/4 teaspoon pepper
4 to 4 1/2 cups of vegetable stock
1/2 teaspoon green curry paste
a squirt of sriracha (optional, but we like a little kick)
1 to 3 tablespoons coconut sugar
1 to 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

Directions:
Preheat oven to 375F. Cut spaghetti squash in half; scoop out and discard the seeds (or set aside to roast them if you like). Rub the inside flesh with a tablespoon of coconut oil, and place the squash on a baking sheet, cut-side down. Bake for 45 minutes to an hour, or until a fork easily pierces the squash’s flesh. When finished cooking, set aside. When cool, scrape out noodles of squash with a fork.

In a three-and-a-half to four-quart stock pot, warm a tablespoon of coconut oil over medium heat on the stove. Add the chopped carrots, chopped celery, chopped green pepper, grated garlic cloves, and generous shakes of salt and pepper. Let cook until the onions are translucent, the vegetables are fairly soft and the kitchen is fragrant, but before everything starts browning.

Add four to four-and-a-half cups of vegetable stock (we always have some in the freezer, ever since I started using this method). Add half a teaspoon of curry paste and, if you like, a squirt of sriracha. (At this point, you could also add additional vegetables if you like, such as green beans or tomato or frozen broccoli or whatever you like. ) Add a tablespoon each of coconut sugar and balsamic vinegar.

Let pot cook over medium-low until all the vegetables are soft. If you didn’t add vegetables in the second step, this will only take 15 minutes or less. Taste and adjust seasonings (it will likely need a lot more salt) as you like. Add up to two more tablespoons each of coconut sugar and balsamic, depending on how the blend of vegetables tastes. You want the stock to be slightly spicy and slightly sweet.

Last, add the spaghetti squash noodles and cook for about two minutes more, just long enough to warm the squash.

Shanna Mallon started Food Loves Writing back in 2008, as a way to remember her grandma and write about her life through food. Since then it's become a place leading her to a lifestyle of eating whole foods, a new home in Nashville and the love of her life, Tim. Follow Shanna on Twitter @foodloves, keep up with Food Loves Writing on Facebook and stay inspired with the monthly newsletter.

This Post Has 19 Comments

  1. Emma Galloway

    ‘the deeper you go with it, the more questions that arise’. Such a true statement. I think it’s so easy to get caught up with the latest fads (for some reason at the moment I have pangs of guilt whenever I post a recipe with sugar in it, as the whole ‘I quit sugar’ thing is going mental down here in Australia!). I think the most important thing is that we are each aware of ourselves and our bodies and that we do the best that we can do to nourish them in each and every way. As you said love, every bodies different. I to feel frustrated at all the contradictory ‘health’ advice out there and more than anything I just go with my instincts. I think as much as it’s awesome to be knowledgeable about real food and strive to live that life as best we can, we also have to be kind to ourselves too. xx

    1. Shanna Mallon

      Oh, Emma, you so get it. Thank you. I know just what you’re saying about the trends and guilt associated with them and conflicting information and so on. You’re right. In the end, we just work with the knowledge we have and keep growing and that is enough.

  2. Lan | morestomach

    now that soup season is coming, yes to this! when i’m in the need of something pho-like, i throw in a cinnamon stick, come cloves and a few star anises, it does such magic to the stock.

    Our bodies are complex. Healing them takes time.
    yes. i pulled my back somehow last week and the pain has lingered there and in my hips since. i do stretches nightly and got a massage last night, it’s gradual, it’s slooooow but i have to remember that i have to nurture it, and to give it time to sort itself out.

  3. Kathryn

    Oh I so get this. I’ve spent so much time over the last couple of years researching and trying to find that magic ingredient that is going to be the cure all – that if I eat/drink my bodyweight in tumeric or olive oil or green tea then all my chronic medical stuff will just go away (they don’t). I’ve come to the conclusion, like you, that it’s just too complex to be broken down like that but what you get from eating whole foods is a much better understanding of how your body works and what food makes it feel best and that is, I think, so very important.

    Sadly spaghetti squash is pretty much unknown in this country but I will make the effort to track it down – this soup looks so delicious.

  4. Bethany

    I feel this… I so feel this even more since the last year and the arrival of a little one. What is true about health anymore? And just as you think you are on the right track, something else pops up that is harmful to you and the family and there’s always a bit of a guilt trip associated with the arrival of the news. I know it sounds trite to say, ‘we do the best we can’, but really, we do the best we can with what we have and the knowledge we have acquired and faithfully believe that God sovereignly gives us each day to live one at a time.
    Thank you for voicing your thoughts… it’s comforting to know I’m not the only one who thinks these things.

    1. Shanna Mallon

      Oh, I can only imagine the added feelings with a little one! But you’re so right. At the end of the day, we still rest, even knowing all we don’t know and are missing, because we know Who is in control.

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  6. angela@spinachtiger

    The hardest thing for me to deal with last year was getting pneumonia 4 times and having to flood my body with anti-biotics. I freaked out a little, went green drink, health soups, and super foods. I got better. So far, so good. I still don’t understand what happened. I thought I was doing most things right. I added in boot camp regimen that has made me stronger, increased my appetite and up’d my protein, and there’s a whole camp that says we don’t need to eat meat. I know I do. I’ve added in fermented food (at Tim’s suggestion), and I am being more particular with my meat. But, we are in America, in Monsanto world, and in a food trap that even us who choose healthier can’t get it right a lot of the time. It’s frustrating, and when we don’t feel good, it can be so discouraging and self-blaming. But, the good news is that there is plenty of dialogue, lots of good heated debates to try to flesh out the truth. You guys seem to eat the best of anyone I know. It’s lovely and inspiring. I am now buying spelt flour and sucanat and soon Einkorn (sp) flour. But at the end of the day, what I feed my mind and soul is just as important.

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