California-Inspired Sustainability: Winter Squash Soup Recipe, with Yogurt and Bee Pollen

Reader Contribution by Lisa Kivirist and Inn Serendipity
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What pairs well with this tasty Squash Soup from SHED, a community-focused food enterprise in Healdsburg, California? A glass of 2014 Porter Creek Viognier wine and an inspiring lesson in sustainability, as Sonoma County leads the nation in cultivating a collective movement of area winemakers and farmers to steward the land and foster a healthy environment for future generations. 

This Healdsburg story reminds us that changing the word starts in our home community, driven by local leaders thinking beyond their own bottom line and, most importantly, regularly sharing soup together.

I was treated to the opportunity to experience these flavors of SHED and connect with the Sonoma County Winegrowers, a group of family farmers working to produce high quality grapes that are the foundation for their world class wines, during a recent trip to Healdsburg with my husband-photographer John Ivanko. What struck us most, beyond the amazing flavors of what was on the dining table, was the buzzing community vibe and leadership committed to sustainability.

Launching in 2014, Sonoma County Winegrowers has been on a mission to become the nation’s first 100% certified sustainable wine region, embracing the intersection of conservation and business by recognizing the community itself needs a healthy environment to grow the best grapes that make the world class wines.

“We really wanted to put a stake in the ground and bring Sonoma County into the global dialogue of what sustainability looks like and what our future can be,” shares Karissa Kruse, President of the Sonoma County Winegrowers, an organization dedicated to the promotion and preservation of Sonoma County as one of the world’s premier grape growing regions. “At our heart, we are an agricultural region and community of small-scale farmers. Approximately eighty percent of our farms are under 100 acres and twenty percent are under 20 acres and we grow sixty-six different varietals of grapes.” 

With a goal of supporting farm vibrancy, this initiative Kruse is leading looks at sustainability from an inclusive lens and acknowledges a diversity of components, from improving water quality in the tributaries of the Russian River to utilizing renewable energy. “The key of sustainability is continuous improvement, and every farm and winery can contribute in different ways,” adds Kruse.

“The magic behind Healdsburg and Sonoma County roots in the diversity of both our landscape and community,” explains Doug Lipton, the co-owner with his wife, Cindy Daniel, of SHED. “My vision for SHED is to be a modern grange that really celebrates the words of Wendell Berry, who is such a personal inspiration to me.”

Berry’s words motivated Lipton to career pivot from playing in a jazz band to receiving his doctorate in soil science and a lifetime career committed to sustainability. Established in 2013, Healdsburg SHED has encompassed a café, a fermentation bar, a market selling food, garden tools, and cookware, and an events space. Starting in 2019, however, SHED will move to an online presence, featuring a proprietary Pantry line, curated collection of goods, and ongoing educational content.

Share in this Healdsburg sustainability spirit in your own farmstead kitchen with this recipe courtesy of SHED for their Black Futsu Winter Squash Soup which you can garnish with yogurt (great of you make your own) and bee pollen, especially if you’re a beekeeper.

The Black Futsu is a Japanese heirloom varietal of winter squash with a bright orange flesh and a flavor crossed between a pumpkin and a chestnut. It’s sweet, buttery and slightly nutty. Feel free to also substitute other winter squash varietals in the recipe. We still have piles of butternuts piled up in storage at Inn Serendipity Farm and B&B, thanks to our best year ever for squash. So, we’re good to go.

Add a salad with this Vinaigrette Dressing recipe from Jordan Winery and you have a fully Healdsburg inspired meal!

Black Futsu Winter Squash Soup with Yogurt and Bee Pollen

Courtesy of Chef Bryan Oliver, SHED, Healdsburg, California

Yield:  Six servings

Soup Ingredients:

2 black fustu squash
3 tbsp olive oil
1 yellow onion, sliced thin
2 quarts vegetable stock
3 cups cream
1 tsp picked thyme leaves
1 bay leaf
1 tsp sage
3 tbsp salt
½ tsp ground cardamom
½ tsp ground nutmeg
1 star anise pod

For Garnish Ingredients:

Greek yogurt
toasted pumpkin seeds
pumpkin seed oil or olive oil
bee pollen


1. Split squash in half and remove seeds.  Discard seeds or save for another use. Roast squash cut side down on a baking tray for 35 minutes. Flip squash over and dress with the olive oil and salt to taste. Continue to roast for another 35 minutes or until soft.

2. Melt some butter in a large pan and cook onions over medium heat until translucent.  Add in cream, vegetable stock, and all spices and bring to a simmer.

3. Once squash is cool, scoop out pulp and discard the skin.  Add the squash to the liquid base and simmer for 30 minutes.

4. Blend on high speed using a jar blender or immersion blender, until smooth. Pass through a fine mesh strainer.

4. Before serving, garnish soup with a dollop of yogurt, toasted pumpkin seeds, bee pollen, and oil.

Lisa Kivirist, with her husband, John D. Ivanko, a photographer and drone pilot, have co-authored Rural Renaissance, Homemade for Sale, the award-winning ECOpreneuring and Farmstead Chef cookbook along with operating Inn Serendipity B&B and Farm, completely powered by renewable energy. Kivirist also authored Soil Sisters. As a writer, Kivirist contributes to MOTHER EARTH NEWS, most recently, Living with Renewable Energy Systems: Wind and Solar and 9 Strategies for Self-Sufficient Living. They live on a farm in southwestern Wisconsin with their son, Liam, and millions of ladybugs.

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