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I'm Crystal Vaughn

a classically trained chef taking holistic plant-based nutrition on a grand adventure through North America. When I’m not creating in our traveling kitchen, you can usually find me on my yoga mat or a hiking trail.

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Thanksgiving, at it's core, is about coming together and giving thanks.  Thanks for the harvest, thanks for community and thanks for another year of health.  Let's keep that at the forefront as we enter this holiday season. 

I encourage you to take time to sit in gratitude.  I promise, when we focus on the things we are grateful for we actually feel better, happier and my guess is more pleasant to be around.  This year I am thankful for so much; a happy and healthy baby boy, a loving and supportive husband, an adventure loving husky, wonderful family and a safe home to call our own.   This chapter of my life isn't exactly what I pictured but it is quite wonderful and everyday I choose gratitude.

 

Now, onto this rich and creamy soup!  I can't say that I love every pumpkin soup I try.  I knew if I was going to create one it needed a little bit of a twist.  A little added intrigued and I think the combination of creamy coconut milk and spicy and flavorful ginger meld perfectly with the sweetness of pumpkin.

This is a great addition to your holiday menu and you can even make it ahead of time and heat right before serving.  One less thing to do on Thanksgiving Day!  If you try this recipe I would love to hear what you think in the comments below. 

Have a very happy Thanksgiving!

In gratitude,

Crystal

Coconut Ginger Pumpkin Soup
Serves 4

INGREDIENTS

1 baking pumpkin, around 2 1/2 lb
Cooking oil, preferably avocado
2 shallots (or 1 small onion), sliced
3 cloves of garlic
1 15 oz can of coconut milk
1 heaping tbsp ginger, peeled and grated
3 cups of vegetable stock or water
salt and pepper, to taste
toppings of choice

INSTRUCTIONS

1. Preheat oven to 400°.  Cut your pumpkin in half and scoop out seeds.  Drizzle both sides with about 1 to 2 tbsp oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Place open side down on a parchment paper lined baking sheet.  Bake for 30 to 35 minutes or until easily pierced with a fork.

2. While the pumpkin cooks, heat 1 tbsp oil in a large pot over medium heat.  Add in the sliced shallot and whole garlic cloves.  Cook for about 5 minutes and remove from heat and set aside.

3. When pumpkin is done, remove from oven.  Allow to cool and remove skins.  Rough chop the pumpkin.

4. In a blender add the can of coconut milk*, grated ginger, cooked shallots and garlic, 3 cups of vegetable stock or water and the pumpkin.  Blend until a smooth consistency is reached.  CAUTION:  if your ingredients are hot start blending very slowly and/or blend in batches.**

5. Pour soup into the large pot that was used for the shallots and garlic.  Heat over medium until starting to bubble, reduce heat to low.  Cook until warmed through and desired consistency is reached, stirring occasionally.  Add salt and pepper to taste if needed.

6. Ladle into a bowl and serve with your favorite toppings: a swirl of coconut milk, micro greens or parsley, pumpkin seeds and pomegranate seeds if you are feeling extra festive.

Notes: *Reserve a couple spoonfuls if you would like to use as a garnish.  **Be very careful if any of your ingredients are hot.  Hot liquids expand and can send the lid to your blender flying and liquid everywhere.  If your blender is small or you are worried about it being hot, split between multiple batches and stir together in the pot once completed.

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The next stop on our journey was New Hampshire!  When we first arrived the weather had turned cold and rainy. Luckily, the sun returned on our last day and we got to explore the White Mountains.  My favorite hike was Hedgehog Mountain, where most of these photos we taken.

I am excited to share a new recipe with you from this part of our journey.  When we were in Burlington, Dallas had a creamy asparagus soup he couldn't stop talking about so I decided to create my own with a few healthy swaps.  Plus, fresh local asparagus was everywhere we turned!

We were lucky enough to come across some fiddlehead ferns and I decided they would make a great addition!  These delicious foraged vegetables have a very quick season so this soup can also be made without them by adding more asparagus.

 

Adapting to outdoor cooking has taken me a little longer than I thought it would.  There are new challenges when you are dealing with the outside elements, only a two cook top stove and fewer utensils but I'm learning to make it work.

 

The biggest issue so far is the weather.  Whether it is wind or rain, it makes it very challenging to fire up our little camp stove.  Not to mention, who wants to cook while cold and wet?

 

Luckily, we have found some good restaurants along the way to fill in the gaps when cooking isn't ideal.

 

My favorite part of cooking on the road is finding all the fun markets and farmers markets along the way.

 

All the produce just tastes better (and lasts longer) when you are buying it so fresh and it didn't have to travel thousands of miles to make it to your plate. 

 

Grocery store asparagus just doesn't compare to the stuff you buy at the farmers market!

 

I really encourage you to get out to your local markets, meet the people who are growing your food.  It helps us connect back with nature and gives us a new appreciation for it.  And your taste buds will thank you!

 

 

 


 

   

 

 

 

 Love and fiddleheads,

Crystal

 

Creamy Asparagus and Fiddlehead Fern Soup
Serves 2

INGREDIENTS

2/3 cup cashews, soaked*
1 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, diced
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 1/2 cups fiddlehead ferns, cleaned well**
2 1/2 cups asparagus, roughly chopped
1/2 cup water
3 cups vegetable broth***
2 tbsp nutritional yeast (optional)
1 large lemon, juiced (about 3 tbsp)
salt, to taste
pepper, to taste

INSTRUCTIONS

1. Soak cashews overnight or at least 4 to 6 hours.

2. Heat a large saute pan over medium heat.  Add onions and saute until aromatic and just starting to brown, about 5 minutes. 

3.  Stir in garlic, fiddle head ferns and asparagus and cook until bright green.  Season with a pinch of salt and black pepper. (If you would like to reserve a couple fiddle heads or asparagus for garnish, set aside a couple now)

4. Pour in 1/2 cup water to deglaze the pan.  Stir and cook for anther two minutes.

5. In a blender add the asparagus mixture from the pan, vegetable broth, nutritional yeast, lemon juice, salt and pepper.  Blend until smooth and creamy.  Taste for seasoning and add more salt and pepper if needed.  Check the consistency;  if it is too thick you can add water or stock 1 tbsp at a time until desired consistency. 

6.  Garnish with reserved fiddleheads or asparagus. 

Notes: *You can use either raw or roasted for this recipe.  The flavor will change slightly if you use the roasted but in a good way! **This soup can be made without fiddlehead ferns, just replace them with 1 1/2 cups asparagus. ***While I am traveling I use bouillon cubes dissolved into water instead of homemade or store bought broth.   

  

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I was rummaging around in the pantry last week and came across some local dried cannelini beans.  I had bought them at the farmers market a while ago and decided I should cook them up into some soup.  I first soaked them and cooked them in the pressure cooker but I was having a hard time deciding what soup to make with them.

After considering lots of options (one with golden beets, I may have to try it later) and looking for inspiration at the grocery store, I decided on a creamy variety and I thought rosemary would complement these little white beans nicely. 

When it comes to a simple (yet delicious) creamy soup I like to add a little bit of intrigue, something unexpected.  I kept thinking how well the beans would go with Brussels sprouts but I'm not a huge fan of them just boiled and added to a soup.  A few months ago I had come across a recipe that was using them as a topping and I decided this would be the perfect recipe to try it out on.  OMGosh it turned out so good!


 

It was even better than I expected.  The flavors and textures all complement each other so well.  I couldn't wait to share the recipe with all of you.  The soup is good on its own and you could skip the topping and just garnish with a little parsley, BUT it is well worth the extra couple of steps to make this dish really wonderful.

Warmth and Brussels sprouts for all,

Crystal  

Rosemary and White Bean Soup with Crispy Brussels Sprouts
Serves 2 to 4 (depending on serving size)

INGREDIENTS

1 tbsp olive oil
1 large leek (or two small)
3 garlic cloves, crushed
1 large stem of rosemary, leaves removed and roughly chopped
4 cups vegetable broth or water*
3 cups cannelini beans (or 2 cans)
Topping:
1/2 lb Brussels sprouts
1/4 cup hazelnuts, roughly chopped
1 tbsp olive oil
1/2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
salt, to taste
pepper, to taste

INSTRUCTIONS

1. Trim the leek by cutting the root end and the tops with leaving about 2 to 3 inches of the green leafy part.  Slice in half lengthwise and roughly chop.  Place leeks in a bowl and fill with cold water.  Using your hands work the dirt off of the leeks for a minute or two (all the sand and dirt should fall to the bottom of the bowl).  Once, all the dirt is removed from the leeks use a sieve or slotted spoon and remove them from the bowl into a new bowl.  Set aside.

2. Heat oil in a large pot over medium heat.  Add in leek and garlic and saute for about 8 minutes, until becoming aromatic and leeks becoming slightly translucent.

3.  Add chopped rosemary leaves, a generous pinch of salt and pepper.  Stir and cook for 2 minutes.

4.  Add stock or water and beans and bring to a boil.  Lower and simmer for 10 minutes.  Remove from heat.

5.In a blender or food processor slowly ladle a little bit of soup in.  BE VERY CAREFUL.  Place a cloth over the device you've chosen and slowly blend or pulse.  Adding the rest of the soup in slowly.  Hot liquid expands when blended so be very careful not to burn yourself.  Continue until all the soup is added and it is smooth and creamy.

6. Serve with Brussels sprout topping.**

Topping:

1. Preheat over to 400°. 

2. Trim the brown end of the Brussels and thinly slice.  I like to cut them lengthwise in fourths.

3. Toss in a bowl with olive oil, apple cider vinegar, salt and pepper.  Once coated stir in hazelnuts.

4. Spread out on a parchment lined sheet pan.

5. Bake for about 15 minutes.  Until browned nicely and starting to crisp up.

Notes: *If you are using store bought vegetable broth, be aware that some of them use vegetable purees.  If this is the case use half broth and half water.  **I really recommend you make the topping but if you decide not to, you can garnish with parsley.

 

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The information on this site is for educational purposes only. It is not intended to diagnose, treat or cure any health condition or disease. It does not replace medical advice from a licensed professional.