Cooking With a Writer Squash Me Up Soup Recipe

In order to make a good book, a break-out novel, you have to have inherent conflict, opposing forces that both want something.

This is my house.

I want to not eat meat.

Everyone else wants to eat meat. I think it’s wasteful to make separate meals all the time (no-meat, meat).

So, like any good protagonist, I’m attempting to convince Shaun and the dogs to eat vegetarian meals. But, I am easily bored so I give the recipes a humorous writer-twist. And that brings us to this squishy squash soup recipe that I made this week. It was creamy and delightful and you can add things to it like cilantro!

Gabby hated it so much she resorted to eating licking the comforter.
Gabby hated it so much she resorted to eating licking the comforter.

Squash Me Up Soup Recipe

It’s squash. It’s soup. It’s creamy. It’s orange. That’s got to be good, right? 

  • 2 TBSP Unsalted butter
  • 1 Leek (all chopped up)
  • 1 Butternut Squash (3 – 4 pounds, cube it up)
  • .25 tsp nutmeg
  • .5 tsp black petter
  • 4 tbsp sherry (More if you just got rejected)
  • 3 cup vegetarian stock
  • 1 cup milk (the full-on fat kind because you are a starving writer)
  • 2 tbsp heavy cream
  • sherry vinegar (to taste)
  • salt (to taste)
  1. Find a medium stock pot and melt the butter in a medium stockpot. Turn it on medium-lowish heat. Feel like this is how your book feels – sort of mid-list, sort of squishy. Ponder with angst. 

  2. Once the butter is melted, stop staring at it and put the leeks in there.

    They have to sweat.

    So do you, right? Writing is sweat for the heart, grit for the soul, an endurance sport.

  3. Stir it once in a while. That’s how your agent responds to you, right? Once in awhile. Stir until the leeks are soft but not brown.

    This takes about 5 minutes.

    This is much quicker than anything in the publishing world. 

    Except mean tweets.  Mean tweets are fast. 

  4. This looks kind of cool. Admire the leeks. How your book is like them. Good smelling, soft yet not burnt. 

  5. Add the squash, nutmeg, pepper, and some salt.

    Stir it around once in awhile for another 5 minutes. 

  6. Add the sherry.

    For the next 2-3 minutes let the sherry hang out in there. 

    If it is not against your religion, drink sherry straight from the bottle. That’s just what happens when there is nobody helping you cook.

    Do not judge yourself. That’s what reviewers are for.

  7. Add enough stock to barely cover the vegetables. 

    This is sort of like the publicity budget for your book – just enough to cover the basics.

    Drink more sherry. Wipe it off your chin. 

  8. Okay. It’s breakout novel … I mean … soup… time. 

    Turn the heat to high. Make it boil.

    Feel satisfied. That’s success right there. 

    Now reduce the heat to a simmer. Control that simmer like you control your readers’ emotions and keep it there for 20 minutes.

    The squash should be fork tender like your readers’ hearts. 

  9. Add milk.

    Add the 2 tablespoons cream. 

  10. Blend until smooth. 

    This is scary because it is hot so be careful. If you are using a regular blender and not an immersion blender DO NOT TRY TO DO IT ALL AT ONCE! This is like a manuscript. You can’t just throw it all in there for two seconds and call it good. There are steps to blending just like there are steps to revision. 

  11. Add however much salt, pepper, sherry, and sherry vinegar you need to make it taste good.

    If it seems bland go raid the spice rack and add cumin or curry or open the fridge and squeeze some hot sauce in there – a TB or more to taste.

  12. Once it is in the bowl, put cream on top so it seems fancy. 

Dog Verdict: WHERE IS THE BACON?

Man Verdict: This would be better with bacon, honestly

Carrie Verdict: Cilantro is the new bacon!

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Cooking With a Writer

WRITING NEWS

I’m on WERU today, Thursday, at 10 a.m. EST. You can call in and ask me stuff. I’ll be talking about writing and books. The link is here. 

TIME STOPPERS THE MIDDLE GRADE SERIES OF AWESOME

Time Stoppers’s third book comes out this summer. It’s been called a cross between Harry Potter and Percy Jackson, but with heart. It takes place in Acadia National Park in Bar Harbor, Maine. I need to think of awesome ways to promote it because this little book series is the book series of my own middle grade heart. Plus, I wrote it for the Emster. Plus, it is fun.

Dogs Are Smarter Than People

And finally, the podcast DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE is still chugging along. Thanks to all of you who keep listening to our weirdness. We’re sorry we laugh so much… sort of.

Dogs are smarter than people - the podcast, writing tips, life tips, quirky humans, awesome dogs
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Cooking With A Writer – Dude, There’s a Burrito in my Spaghetti Squash

I convinced The Man and The Dogs to let me try another vegetarian recipe.

“It’s for the blog,” I said.

“Does the blog earn us any money?” The Man asked.

“Does this vegetarian recipe have bacon bits?” The Dogs asked. “Bacon bits do not count as meat.

“No,” I said. “And no. And yes… chopping meat into tiny bites and bits does not take away the qualities of meat.”

The Dogs decided to sleep through the recipe, which I understand. They’d had a hard day of barking at UPS drivers and squirrels, drooling on windows, and longing for meat products.

The Man did not sleep through the cooking.  He had questions, sort of like a copy editor or something… So many questions about every little detail.

“Does this mean you’re finally going to get rid of the gigantic spaghetti squash that’s been in our bread box for months?’ The Man asked. “Because then I am good with this recipe as long as we can go get pizza later.”

I have a lot to put up with here. Obviously.

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This bad boy recipe is really loosely adapted from a much grander recipe from Cookie and Kate. You should check them out and applaud the beauty that is their website.

For background if you are new to this part of my blog:

Everyone always talks about writing being like cooking.

Clarification: By everyone, I mean writers. Writers like to talk about themselves.

Anyways, there are a million blogs about how writing is like cooking, but not really anything about cooking like a writer. So, our new Thursday segment is now COOKING LIKE A WRITER.

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What does this mean?

It means I’m going to share one recipe with you each Thursday and it’s not going to be shiny and pretty and slick. It’s going to be real, people, because writers of kidlit are authentic AF.

Here is your Thursday recipe. The hardest part is cutting the damn squash, honestly. It was so hard! I had to get help.

Burrito Bowl inside a Spaghetti Squash! Say What the What?

Writers! YOU CAN DO THIS! You can make a thought into a story. Of course you can make a squash into a burrito! 

Also, the calories are on the upper end of the scale because I’m imagining you’re using a lot of toppings because writers are like that if we have other jobs. If you don’t have another job, you probably won’t use cheese, right? Because cheese is expensive! And maybe not as many beans? Then your count is going to be in the 250 range. 

THESE ARE THE ROASTED SQUASH INGREDIENTS – ACT ONE

  • 2 squash – medium, take out its innards and seedy things.
  • 2 TBSP olive oil
  • salt – dash
  • pepper – a few dashes

THESE ARE THE SLAW INGREDIENTS – ACT TWO

  • 1 package cole slaw mexican salad mix OR two cups of green cabbage shredded
  • 1 can black beans, drain it because it's icky if you don't
  • 1 red pepper, chopped
  • 1/2 cup green onion – all parts white and green, we love all parts here
  • 1/3 cup cilantro
  • 3 TBSP lime juice

THESE ARE THE SALSA SAUCE INGREDIENTS – ACT THREE

  • 3/4 cup salsa verde
  • 1 avocado – make it ripe, dice it up
  • 1 TBSP lime juice – yes, again with the lime juice
  • 1/4 tsp salt – yes, again with the salt
  • 1/3 cup cilantro, you've got it, again with the cilantro
  • 1 clove garlic

Random garnishes if you are into that – cheese, more cilantro because we're trying to increase the livelihood of those who produce cilantro, I guess?

    1. I am so sorry. But you have to cut the squash in half. I know! I know! This is hard. This requires muscles. Writers’ only muscles are in our fingers. This is not enough to chop spaghetti squash in half. 

    2. Recruit help to cut the squash in half. This is like a beta reader. It’s okay for a writer/cook to have back-up. Just make sure they are strong. 

    3. Preheat the oven to 400-degrees Fahrenheit because that’s important. You can do this. This just requires finger muscles to set the degrees. You’ve got this, writer! 

    4. Spread the olive oil on the squash. Pretend it is the tears that have coalesced after rejection letters. Look at you! You’re tears are making something delicious. 

      Add salt and pepper because why not, honestly? 

    5. Flip the squash over so that the inside parts are now down against the baking sheet. Think about how this is like your own inside parts, hidden inside your story. This is you, this squash! This is your heart and soul hidden from the reader but turning into something beautiful. 

    6. Put the pan in the oven! THIS IS IMPORTANT! Use those writing muscles and eat the time for 40 minutes, but it might take an hour. Squash like stories don’t really follow perfect schedules and some take a little longer. It’s done when a fork can pierce through the flesh.

    7. DO NOT MAKE THE SQUASH YOUR OBJECTIVE CORRELATIVE! I promise. It is not you. It is not your writer soul. You do not need to be pierced easily with a fork. You must remain intact. Take a moment to breathe. You’ve got this. 

    8. Okay. Are you okay? Make sure you’re okay. Don’t think about rejections or bad reviews. Take the slaw mix. Add black beans, the red pepper, the cilantro, the lime juice, the olive oil, the salt, the tears. Toss it around. Let it marinate. This is just like writing a book, isn’t it? Leave it alone for a bit. Do not check it out. It’s good. It’s parts are mixing up and complimenting each other like plot and setting and action and voice and dialogue. Actually, maybe walk away from the kitchen and post an Instagram poem about squash and flesh and forks and marinating slaw. 

    9. Okay. It’s salsa time! Do you feel happier? Did you write a poem? Did anyone like it? Find a blender. Borrow a blender if you don’t have one. It’s like borrowing a plot – totally not a big deal. Cough. Okay. So in the blender put the avocado, the salsa verde, the cilantro and lime juice. Add the garlic because this is not a YA novel set in Seattle. No sparkly vampires here, baby. 

    10. Writer. Um… I forgot to tell you to plug in the blender. Put the top on. Press BLEND. Watch things blend. Blend it till smooth. Marvel at how all these random bits come together to make something yummy. These bits are like your thoughts! Wow…. That’s deep! 

    11. Dude. You are amazing. You have made three parts of something! IT IS LIKE THE OLD BORING THREE-ACT STRUCTURE OF A STORY! Whoah… Mind blown. Do a happy dance. You’re amazing.

    12. Assemble it! Fluff the squash innards up. Put slaw into the hollowed out squash places. Put the salsa verde mix on top. Dang. Look at that. Garnish if you want. Eat your masterpiece! You did this, writer! You! 

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    Man’s Verdict: That was surprisingly good actually and hearty. Probably because like you know the beans and the spaghetti squash has some density to it. The slaw is like a binder. Through some hot sauce in there.

    Dog’s Verdict: Why do you hate us?

    Carrie’s Verdict: This was pretty yummy, but cutting a spaghetti squash is so super hard. There must be an easier way to do that. Wait! I should check the internet for ways to do that.

    Squash cutting
    Squash cutting is serious, people

    The ways are here, thanks to Trial and Eater.

    Also, my middle grade fantasy series, TIME STOPPERS, is totally out there in the world thanks to the wonderful people at Bloomsbury.  It’s about two kids finding love and acceptance and friendship even though their lives have been super horrible. One of them was raised by trolls pretending to be people. Apparently, there are a lot of trolls out there.

    Writing tips and help from NYT bestselling author Carrie Jones
    Look, they made a pull quote!

    It’s sort of Harry Potter crossed with Percy Jackson crossed with Inkheart, but set in Bar Harbor and Northeast Harbor, Maine and it’s full of magic and adventure, but mostly it’s full of friendship. Because friends? Friends matter.

    To find out more about it, you can go here. I hope you all have an amazing day and eat yummy food and nobody torments you too much. Watch out for trolls.