It is perfectly chilly here in Los Angeles. But we are wimps about it. We are wimps about weather in general. During the summer, we’ll tell you it’s blazing hot, the air is dry, and we can barely go outside. Let the first and only drops of spring rain hit the ground, and we turn into maniac drivers and complain about getting wet. Come fall, the cool breeze that forces us into wearing a light jacket is rather upsetting. And don’t get started on winter. Once the temperatures reach the 40s at night, you’ll hear our teeth chattering, and folks are wrapped snug as bugs in a rug when it’s time to go to bed. We are weather wimps, and it’s time everyone admitted it. One of the best ways to stay warm right about now is with soup. Soup is healthy, comforting, nutritious and, well, it’s warming. Especially if you make it spicy.
Butternut squash is the cotton candy of winter vegetables. It’s hard to resist and sweet as pie, but it has more fiber and vitamins A and C. It’s also perfectly matched with a variety of spices. Did you know the natural capsaicin in chili peppers has the ability to warm your body? Some people even sprinkle a tiny bit in their socks to keep their feet warm during the winter. If it works on feet, it must work in soup, right? The sweet pungency of fresh ginger mixed with chili pepper and cayenne pepper give this soup a punch with every spoonful. Fresh cilantro is just the right garnish for a touch of color and flavor to top it off. Chills, be gone!
Spiced Butternut Squash Soup – Serves 6 to 8
1 butternut squash, peeled and cut into 1″ cubes
3 cloves garlic, halved
2 tablespoons grapeseed oil, divided
1 tablespoon ghee or unsalted butter
2 stalks celery, diced
1 carrot, diced
1/2 red onion, diced
1/2 cup Russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1″ cubes (optional)*
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, minced
4 cups vegetable broth
1 1/2 tablespoons curry powder
1 tablespoons ground ginger
1 1/2 tablespoons kosher salt
1. Spread the butternut squash and garlic over a baking sheet and drizzle 1 tablespoon of grapeseed oil on top. Roast in a preheated oven at 400 degrees for 40-50 minutes or until soft. Remove from the oven and set aside.
2. Heat the ghee and remaining grapeseed oil over medium high heat in a large pot. Once hot, add the celery, carrots, red onion and potatoes. Saute until the vegetables have softened and the onions are translucent, approximately 8-10 minutes.
3. Place the roasted butternut squash into the pot with the vegetables, then stir in the minced ginger and broth. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook until the potatoes are completely soft. Remove from heat and stir in the curry powder, ginger and salt.
4. Ladle half of the vegetables and broth into a blender and process to desired consistency. Pour into another pot. Repeat with remaining vegetables and broth. Garnish each bowl of soup with a healthy sprinkle of chili powder, cayenne pepper and a few pieces of cilantro if desired.
*The potatoes serve as a starchy thickening agent for this soup. You can use rice, cream, pureed white beans or garbanzo beans or fresh, ground bread crumbs as well. It helps to use a neutrally flavored ingredient and is a great way to use up items in the kitchen. Plus, some of these ingredients can add more nutrients than just flour or cornstarch.
Click HERE for printable recipe.
Chrystal is in the running to present a panel discussion on food blogging at Blogging While Brown 2011. Click HERE to give her panel a ‘thumbs up’. Your support is always appreciated!
Other recipes you may enjoy...
Lillani’s Guest Test Kitchen
Making Use of Leftovers
Quinoa, Grapefruit and Avocado Salad
Give It Another Chance
Jessica’s Test Kitchen