Healthy Soup Recipes:
Spicy Butternut Squash Soup

Healthy soup recipes, like this one featuring butternut squash, provide a wealth of nutrients in each serving. Butternut squash contains a high amount of vitamins while being relatively low in calories. One cup of butternut squash is only 82 calories, but provides over 450% of your daily vitamin A and 52% of your daily vitamin C requirements. Vitamin A is key in maintaining good eye health, reducing your risk of macular degeneration.

Butternut squash is also helpful in keeping your heart healthy. The fiber it contains helps to reduce inflammation and keep blood pressure normal, and its high antioxidant content in the form of vitamin C prevents free radicals from oxidizing your LDL (bad) cholesterol. This oxidation can lead to atherosclerosis and increase your likelihood of having a heart attack or stroke. And, despite being very low in fat, one cup of winter squash provides about 50 mg of healthy omega 3 fatty acids to your diet.

It is important to try to purchase organic butternut squash, if your budget allows it. Studies on winter squash have shown that the vegetable is effective in removing contaminants such as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) from soil. While this is good for the soil, it's not so good for the squash. Organic butternut squash is far less likely to contain high levels of soil contaminants.

To buy the best butternut squash for this healthy soup recipe, choose one that has a hard rind, is firm, heavy for its size, and has a dull (as opposed to glossy) rind. A shiny rind is a sign that the squash was not fully ripe when picked. Reject any that have soft spots or signs of discoloration. Squash with a wide neck and small bulb will have the smallest seed cavity, giving you the most squash for the money. It can be stored in a cool, dark place for up to a month, but once it is cut it should be wrapped in plastic, stored in the refrigerator and used within three days.


Spicy Butternut Squash Soup

Yield 6
Prep Time 45 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes

Ingredients

3 pounds halved and seeded butternut squash
2 tablespoons butter
1 sliced medium onion
1 sliced leek
2 cloves sliced garlic
3 quarts chicken stock
2 peeled and quartered large russet potatoes
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 cup sherry
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup sour cream (optional)

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 375F (190C). Lightly coat the squash halves in oil and place cut sides down in a baking dish. Bake about 40 minutes, until a fork can easily pierce the squash. Let it cool, then remove the peel and set aside.
  2. In a large pot over medium heat, mel thte butter, add the onion, leek and garlic and saute until tender. Add the potatoes and chicken broth and bring to a boil. Reduce heat slightly and cook until soft, about 20 minutes. Add the squash, then puree the soup in the pot with an immersion hand blender or remove it to a food processor. Blend until smooth, then return to pot.
  3. Add the cayenne pepper, allspice, nutmeg, and ginger, and season to taste with salt and pepper. Stir in the sherry and cream and heat until it simmers. Top this healthy soup recipe with an optional dollop of sour cream or croutons.



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