Easy healthy soup: butternut squash


Joined: Jul 10
Posts: 2,052

Posted: 18 Jan 2013, 02:29
I'm not the best cook in the world, but I believe that food is best when it's made with real ingredients rather than processed food. Since many people don't cook like that anymore, or don't cook at all, I'm documenting tonight's cooking adventure. I did all of this without a recipe and with only a half-formed plan, but I ended up with something delicious and healthy.

Because I'm a member of a CSA, I often wind up with vegetables sitting around that need to be turned into something tasty. Today's collection included celery, carrots, leeks, and a butternut squash. "Hrmmmm", I thought to myself. "That looks like soup to me." On the way home from work tonight I stopped and picked up a handful of brown mushrooms, and a few shiitakes for good measure.

First step: cook the squash. I love butternut squash, but I hate peeling it. I had a few words with Google, and learned that butternut squash can be roasted whole in the oven, so I washed it, tossed it in a pan, and let it bake for about an hour and a half at 450.

In the meantime, I filled a big pot with water. I then washed the leeks, celery, and carrots, cut them into big pieces, and tossed them into the pot with the water. I washed the mushrooms and tossed them in too, then quartered an onion and added it to the mess. I couldn't find the bulb of garlic that I thought I had, so I grabbed the jar of chopped garlic that I keep in the 'fridge for garlic emergencies and added a big glop. (I'm not proud of this part, but hey... it works.) I tossed in a couple of bay leaves for good measure, brought the whole mess to a boil, then turned it down and let it simmer for a while.

When the squash was soft I pulled it out out of the oven to cool for a bit. I then strained the solids out of the stock. The result was a beautiful medium-brown broth that was flavorful without being overwhelming. I returned it to the pot and let it simmer.

When the squash was cool enough to handle I cut it in half, scooped out the seeds, and then peeled the skin off. The web was right-- the skin just peels off after the squash is cooked. I put the now-peeled squash bits in the pot with the stock, and let it simmer.

Butternut squash is a great "canvas" food-- you can flavor it in all sorts of ways. It's tasty with just a little bit of salt, or you can add herbs and spices in pretty much any combination that you want. I considered my options, then remembered that I had a bunch of apples in the 'fridge. I peeled and cored a couple of them, then sliced them thin and tossed them into the soup.

I seasoned the soup with about a teaspoon of salt, a bunch of sweet curry powder, and about half a teaspoon of a spicier curry powder. I let everything stew until the apples were soft, then used a hand-blender to puree everything.

I finished it with about two ounces of heavy cream, since I happened to have it around and had no other plans for it. This is completely optional, though, and it does add a couple dozen calories to each serving. It's also the only thing in the whole process that isn't completely vegan. The result is a wonderfully flavorful creamy soup that's fabulous on a cold winter day.

I didn't measure anything, but my estimates for calories are:

200 cream
300 squash
50 stock
150 apples

That's around 700 calories for the whole big pot of soup. It's easily six moderate-sized servings, or four very large ones, so let's call the whole thing 120-180 calories per serving.

This probably seems like it was a lot of work, but it wasn't. I spent a few minutes washing and chopping veggies, then pretty much just let everything stew for a while.

The easier version of this would involve starting with packaged stock or broth rather than making it from scratch, and I would often do that myself, but in my case the whole idea was to use up the veggies that were sitting around.

Will this inspire you to cook something delicious of your own?

Joined: Apr 12
Posts: 72

Posted: 18 Jan 2013, 07:56
It looks delicious and I am always up for a new soup recipe!
If you are going to win any battle you have to do one thing. You have to make the mind run the body. Never let the body tell the mind what to do. The body will always give up. It is always tired in the morning, noon, and night. But the body is never tired if the mind is not tired.-George W Patton

Joined: Aug 10
Posts: 235

Posted: 18 Jan 2013, 09:51
Looks yum and I may have to try this soon. One of my new year's resolutions is to cook one new recipe a week (and if I ever get my act together I plan to start a blog to record my progress and share the recipes I try). I did this last year too, but I wasn't very good about documenting so while I'm pretty sure I was successful in cooking 52 new recipes, I want to better track what I do this year.

So far I have cooked fish tacos with basil aioli, broccli raab with roasted red pepper relish and feta, pizzas from scratch with various toppings [(grilled pineapple, canadian bacon and poblano peppers),(pesto, mozzeralla and black olive)], sausage stuffed peppers, chili rubbed pork tenderloin with apricot glaze and roasted garlic broccoli and cauliflower, and morrocan chicken and vegetables (zucchini, bell pepper and carrots).

I totally agree with you hoser that food is best when made with real, whole ingredients. The pizza from scratch were not that difficult and much better than any delivery pizza. I truly believe putting crap in your body=body feeling like crap, putting good, healthy stuff in your body=good, healthy body. Think you can't eat like this and lose weight? I'm already down 4.5 pounds this year and haven't been able to workout a ton due to a foot injury.

For anyone who thinks they can't cook, I suggest trying something like this. Try to cook one new recipe a week (or 2 new recipes a month). Soon enough you will start to learn lots of cooking techniques just by trying different things and cooking wholesome meals will become faster and easier. You will also learn what flavors go well together and eventually be able to just "throw a meal together" with what you have on hand, no recipe needed.

Joined: Nov 11
Posts: 811

Posted: 18 Jan 2013, 10:40
Yum!!! That sounds so good.. This might be a really stupid question, but I've never made my own soup before. When you strain all the veggies out of the stock, what do you do with them? Do they just get thrown away or do you blend them all up too and keep them in the soup?

I would feel bad throwing away all of those veggies..

P.S. My stomach is growling now. Smile

Someone who is busier than you is working out right now.
There will come a day when you can no longer do this. Today is not that day.

Joined: Jul 10
Posts: 2,052

Posted: 18 Jan 2013, 11:47
When I make stock, the veggies go in the trash.

The thing about them is that after you've cooked them like this they wind up limp and bland and flavorless.

Joined: Jun 11
Posts: 443

Posted: 18 Jan 2013, 12:41
Good job with the soup!

Here is some food for thought, so to speak. When I make bone broth I typically give the left over bones to my dog who loves to chew on them. If I leave the crockpot on for two days the bones becomes bleach white and my dog wont even chew on them.

perhaps an indication that all the nutrients have been removed from the bone?
"Eat as if your life depends on it!"

Joined: Feb 11
Posts: 410

Posted: 18 Jan 2013, 12:46
Thanks for sharing - guess I'd better snag up some squash before the season is over!
Eat like your life depends on it.


Joined: Nov 11
Posts: 811

Posted: 18 Jan 2013, 12:47
Hoser wrote:
When I make stock, the veggies go in the trash.

The thing about them is that after you've cooked them like this they wind up limp and bland and flavorless.

Ahh, that makes sense. They just look so delicious in your picture, but that was probably when you first put them in there.

I'm gonna have to give this whole 'homemade soup' thing a go. It's supposed to be -13F for a HIGH temp here on Sunday/Monday and I think Butternut Squash soup would be perfect. Thanks for the recipe!

Someone who is busier than you is working out right now.
There will come a day when you can no longer do this. Today is not that day.

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