Elements of Food

Slow Cooker Butternut Squash Soup


Fall is finally here! I’ve been waiting! Summer is great and all…but life is so much easier when you don’t have to apply sunblock to your children every single day and then bathe them every single day and clean up sand in shoes, sand in diapers, sand well, everywhere. Fall is beautiful in Minnesota. The trees are turning, the air is crisp, everything smells like apples and cinnamon and pumpkins, and the FOOD…it just gets better and better. Honestly I don’t really know why our slow cookers are kept in storage until the fall and winter…it’s one of my favorite ways to cook and you can literally cook ANYTHING in them, making your life so much easier. Especially if you have little ones running around who LOVE to turn off the oven, reach for the stove flames, etc. My 17 month old snapped off every single one of my stove knob covers. So much for baby proofing…

So I did a little experiment creating one of those fantastic, super quick videos that are plastered all over my Facebook feed. I figured hey, I have an iPhone, I’ll just place it in my cabinet above my counters and voila! Just one thing missing…the recipe 🙂 So here it is! Also, the entire video is below.


  • 2 large butternut squash (you can do this with any type of squash you like as well)
  • 2 large Honeycrisp apples, peeled, cored and sliced (You can also drop in a cup of unsweetened applesauce at the end and get the same effect)
  • 1 large yellow onion, cut into large chunks
  • 36-48 ounces of chicken broth (use 48 if you like a thinner consistency of your soup)
  • 3/4 cup Lite Coconut Milk (in the can, not the beverage. Hubby came home with unsweetened vanilla coconut milk thinking it was for my coffee 🙂
  • Nutmeg
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Parmesan Cheese and Chives for garnish


  • Wash the butternut squash (NO NEED TO PEEL!) and cut in half (or quarters depending on how large your slow cooker is) and remove the seeds
  • Place the squash, sliced apple and onions in the slow cooker and cover with chicken broth.
  • Cook on high for 4 hours or low for 8.
  • Now go do something fun, because dinner is basically made.
  • Butternut squash is done once you can pierce it easily with a fork
  • Remove the squash from the slow cooker, and let it cool for awhile or you will absolutely burn your fingers like I almost did.
  • Scoop out the squash from the peel and place it back in the slow cooker with the apples, onion and broth.
  • Using an immersion blender, blend until smooth.
  • Add in the coconut milk, nutmeg, salt and pepper to taste. Blend again.
  • Garnish with lots of Parmesan, chives and a drizzle of coconut milk. It’s so good that way.
  • Tip for those with littles: Reusable pouches and sippy cups work great with this soup!
Elements of Food

Creamy Pumpkin and Apple Soup

I think that one of my most favorite parts about Fall is that I get to pull out my repertoire of soup recipes! And nothing says Fall quite like a hot, creamy pumpkin soup! B was working all weekend, gearing up for his busy season so the easiest thing for me to do to ensure a hot dinner when he arrives, is whip up a quick soup. This one was pretty easy, but very satisfying and not terrible for you! I did omit the 2 cups of heavy cream and substituted 1 cup of half and half…and I think it turned out perfectly. But if you have room in your arteries for that 2 cups of heavy cream, by all means…go ahead!


  • 2 tablespoons of butter
  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 teaspoons of dried thyme
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 2 stalks of celery with leaves, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons of flour
  • 2-3 teaspoons of hot sauce
  • 7 cups of chicken broth (or veggie broth, your call)
  • 1 28 ounce can of pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling…read your labels)
  • 1 cup of half and half (or the two cups of cream…whatever your body can handle!)
  • 1  teaspoon of ground nutmeg
  • Salt and Pepper
  • 1 Granny Smith apple, finely chopped


  1. In a medium soup pan or dutch oven, combine olive oil and butter and melt until combined.
  2. Add the bay leaf and thyme
  3. Add in your chopped onion, garlic and celery and cook until tender… about 7-8 minutes. Add in the 2 tablespoons of flour and cook for another minute.
  4. Add in the hot sauce and stir until combined.
  5. Add chicken broth and bring to a simmer. Slowly whisk in the pumpkin until combined. Cook for 10 minutes
  6. Remove the soup from the heat and using an immersion blender, blend until smooth and pureed.
  7. Return to the heat, and add in the cream and stir until combined.
  8. Season with nutmeg, salt and pepper. I found that this soup actually needed more salt than I would have added, but it all depends on the sodium content of your broth. I tend to cook with  low or no sodium broths.
  9. Garnish with a swirl of cream and chopped apples.


Elements of Food, Elements of Home, Favorite Things

Smoky Corn Chowder on 95 Degree Day…Good Idea…

I’m not quite sure what I was thinking…it was 95 degrees outside and for some reason, I wanted to make a soup for dinner. Maybe it’s because it’s easy and filling…but then I probably should have served inside the air conditioned house as opposed to the steamy front porch. Anyway…Here’s the recipe. It’s delightful. I served it with a warm (again, bad idea) baguette and herb goat cheese spread. The smoked paprika is what really makes this corn chowder fantastic…I recommend buying it if you don’t have it, it will soon become one of your favorite spices to use. For a little twist to this recipe, add some shredded chicken breast.

Recipe: Real Simple Cookbook (with a couple tiny additional notes/changes)


  • 8 ounces sliced bacon
  • 1 large sweet onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper (I used red pepper flakes…works just fine)
  • 2 10-ounce packages frozen corn
  • 3 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 cup half and half or whole milk
  • kosher salt and black pepper
  • 4 green onions, thinly sliced


  1. Cook the bacon in a large saucepan or Dutch oven over medium heat until crisp, 5 to 6 minutes. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate.
  2. Spoon off and discard all but 2 tablespoons of the drippings. (I found there wasn’t much more than this in the pan anyway) Return the pan to medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft, 5 to 7 minutes.
  3. Add the garlic, paprika, and red pepper and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes.
  4. Stir in the corn, broth, and half-and-half and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes.
  5. Using an immersion blender, puree the corn mixture in the pot. Or, transfer half the soup to a blender and puree until smooth. Return to the pot and stir in ½ teaspoon each salt and pepper.
  6. Divide the soup among bowls and top with the scallions and chopped bacon.