{Slow Cooker} Chai Butternut Squash Soup

With more than two weeks of traveling and a semi-unplanned fitness and blog hiatus behind me, I’m ready to jump into the new year. I am still working on my 2018 goals for all areas of my life, but rest assured that my biweekly schedule here is unharmed. I’m excited to share new recipes and cooking adventures with all of you, and have some fun series planned throughout the year. (If there’s something you’d love to see featured, let me know!)

Chai Butternut Squash Soup {{Baking Bytes}}

Winter hit Montana in full force while I was in much wetter parts of the country, but I welcome the cold and white climate of this time of year. Skiing and crisp winter runs are sure to be abundant over the next couple of months, and like any sane person I love coming home to a nice warm soup.

Chai Butternut Squash Soup {{Baking Bytes}}

This recipe is souper easy (ha) and extremely tasty. Thick and filling, it warms you from the inside out with its cozy spices and sweet squash flavor. Start a batch before you head out on your winter adventures, and within 20 minutes of getting home you’ll have this deliciousness ready to eat.

Prep time is minimal, but if you want to speed things up a bit I definitely won’t judge you for buying pre-diced squash. Since the soup is pureed anyway, I don’t bother peeling the carrots or apple but you can if you wish. This soup is also very forgiving, so if you have space in the slow cooker feel free to add a few additional carrots or apples to the mix.

Chai Butternut Squash Soup {{Baking Bytes}}

The chai spice mix is very simple and allows you to tailor it to your preferences. Raise or lower the proportions to suit your tastes, or ditch certain spices entirely. I made this mix for the soup, of course, but it’s also delicious in oatmeal, smoothies, milkshakes, lattes, hot chocolate, or anything you can dream up. It keeps just as long as any of your spices would, so don’t be afraid of the excess. I used closer to two tablespoons for a nice strong spice flavor, but I recommend starting with half the amount so you can find your perfect balance.

An immersion blender makes quick work of pureeing, but you can use a food processor or regular blender if you are careful. Work in small batches and allow the soup to cool briefly before blending.

Chai Butternut Squash Soup {{Baking Bytes}}

Warm in both flavor and temperature, this soup is great on its own or alongside a nice crusty bread and a light salad. The leftovers reheat well which makes it perfect for meal-prep, presuming it wasn’t all scarfed up the first day.

Chai Butternut Squash Soup

Adapted from Give Me Some Oven
Makes about 6 quarts

Ingredients

1 large butternut squash (3-4 lbs), peeled, seeded, and diced
2 medium carrots, diced
1 large apple, cored and diced
1 medium onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1-2 Tbsp chai spice (below), to taste
1/4 tsp cayenne, to taste
2-4 cups vegetable stock

1 (15oz) can full-fat unsweetened coconut milk1
salt and pepper, to taste

Directions

  1. Add all ingredients (start with 2 cups broth) except coconut milk to large slow cooker and stir gently to combine.
  2. Cook on low 6-8 hours or on high for 3-4 hours, or until squash is tender.
  3. Use an immersion blender to puree the soup completely (or carefully use a regular blender and small batches.)
  4. Stir in coconut milk (you can start with just half of it, if you prefer) and additional spices as necessary. Add more vegetable broth to thin soup to your ideal consistency.
  5. (If you added more spices, allow to simmer for about 10 minutes.)
  6. Serve warm, topped with additional coconut milk and chai spices, if desired.

Chai Spice Mix

Adapted from A Dash of Megnut

Ingredients

1 Tbsp cinnamon
2 tsp cardamom
1 1/2 tsp ginger
1 tsp allspice
1/2 tsp cloves
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper

Directions

  1. Combine all ingredients in a small jar and shake or whisk until well combined.
  2. Store in an air-tight container until ready for use.

Notes

If you are not vegan and not a fan of coconut milk, you can substitute half and half instead. Start with 1/2 cup and increase as desired.

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Chai Latte Ice Cream {National Ice Cream Month}

[Welcome! In case you missed it, July is National Ice Cream Month. Each Wednesday I’ll be posting a new flavor, so be sure to check back and find your new favorite. if you missed last week’s Peanut Butter Banana, it can be found here.]

Welcome back, kids. This week we’re going slightly off trend and bringing tea into the mix. One of my favorite year-round beverages is a chai tea latte: steaming hot in the winter and over ice in the summer. The spicy tea with the creaminess of milk makes for a refreshing drink at any temperature, both for the drink and the weather. I figured I’d up the ante and try to bring it together in ice cream form to mix it up for summer.

Chai Latte Ice Cream {{Baking Bytes}}

My first attempt I didn’t bother to condense the tea and although the taste was delicious, the texture was rather icy and not what I typically strive for. Take two: I simmered away much of the water from the tea, added it to my usual base, and voilà: deliciousness abound.

Chai Latte Ice Cream {{Baking Bytes}}

Oregon Chai Concentrate is something I consider to be a staple, so that is what I used. (Pro tip, it’s hella cheaper at Costco.) I love that it comes in several flavors as well as decaffeinated and is super quick to prepare without sacrificing flavor. It blended beautifully into ice cream, that spicy flavor we know and love permeating a cold frozen treat. It is perhaps a bit icier in texture than plain vanilla, but no more so than last year’s Orange Creamsicle, and definitely still delightful.

Chai Latte Ice Cream {{Baking Bytes}}

If you’re looking to step outside the usual peanut butter or chocolate or fruit concoctions found in the ice cream aisle, this may be the recipe for you. I hope you give it a try and let me know what you think!

Chai Latte Ice Cream {{Baking Bytes}}

Chai Latte Ice Cream 

Makes ~6 cups

Ingredients

2.5 cups Oregon Chai concentrate

3/4 cup sugar
2 cups heavy whipping cream
1 cup half and half (or milk)
1/2 cup egg substitute
1.5 tsp vanilla (optional)

Directions

  1. In a small saucepan, simmer tea concentrate over medium heat until it is reduced to about 1/2 – 3/4 cup in volume. Let cool while you prepare the base.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together remaining ingredients. Slowly stream in condensed tea, whisking constantly.
  3. Cover bowl and chill in the refrigerator at least 4 hours, or overnight.
  4. Freeze according to your ice cream maker’s directions, then place in a freezer-safe bowl to freeze for an additional three hours, or overnight.