As the unmistakable sights and sounds of autumn fill the fresh, crisp New England air, and bright oranges, yellows and auburn hues become a sight to behold on highways and winding country roads, the mind turns to comfort foods that are warm and soothing to the palate. Visions of heart warming soup come to mind and taking a cue from nature, I feel the urge to incorporate her gorgeous colors into my home-made meals.
This apple-squash soup is one such nature inspired concoction that blends autumn’s bounty and breath-taking colors into a heart warming soup that’s sure to please the taste buds and entice your guests to flock back for seconds. Beware! The ginger and red pepper flakes add a spicy punch to the silken texture of this soup. “Nutrilicious”, and only 130 calories per 1 cup serving!!! So go ahead and indulge!
Serving size: 1 cup
- 4 cups butternut squash, chopped to a 1/2 ” dice
- 1 medium Granny Smith apple peeled, cored and chopped to a 1/2 ” dice, about 1 cup.
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 1/2 tbsp fresh ginger, peeled and minced
- 1/8-1/4 tsp turmeric
- 1 tsp red pepper flakes (optional)*
- 2-3 tbsp basil, chopped
- Salt to taste
- 3.5 cups vegetable broth, gluten-free. (You may also use chicken broth instead).
- 2.5 tbsp olive oil
For the garnish:
- 1 small Macintosh or other regular apple, very thinly sliced
- 1 tbsp freshly chopped basil
- 1/4 cup freshly grated smoked gouda or other shredded cheese
- Heat oil in a 3 quart sauce pan or dutch oven over medium heat. Add minced ginger, and sauté until ginger sizzles, about a minute or so. Adjust heat to prevent burning.
- Add chopped onions and sauté for 5-10 minutes until soft and transparent.
- Add squash and stir well into the onion ginger mixture. (Figure 1)
- As squash begins to soften, add the diced, tart apple, blending well with the squash in the pan. (Figure 2)
- Add spices, salt and basil into above mixture, stirring for another 2-3 minutes.
- Cover pan with a lid and allow apple and squash to simmer on low heat until both begin to lose their shape and form a homogeneous mass, about 5 minutes or so, stirring occasionally to prevent burning. (Figure 3).
- Add 2.5 cups of vegetable broth and bring the mixture to a rolling boil, stirring frequently to prevent vegetables from sticking to the bottom of the pan.
- Cover and allow to simmer again on low heat until vegetables are cooked through.
- Using a hand blender, break up any lumps, until you have a fairly smooth puree.
- Alternatively, you may also pour the contents (after cooling), into the jar of an electric blender and puree until smooth.
- Add remaining 1 cup of broth to pureed mixture until desired “soup” consistency is reached.
- Taste for seasoning.
- Ladle into individual bowls and top with a sprig of basil, 1-2 tsp freshly grated cheese and the thinly sliced apple.
*Use the red pepper flakes only if you don’t mind the heat and pungent flavor it imparts to the soup. If you don’t care for spice, you may want to delete it or use only a pinch.
A Registered Dietitian’s tip:
Anti-inflammatory agents: I have used turmeric and ginger in this recipe because of their potent anti-inflammatory potential. Butternut squash is abundant in an antioxidant called beta carotene, which is a Vitamin A precursor in the body. Antioxidants help fight free radicals that can cause oxidative damage to the body, eventually leading to chronic disease.
Vitamin A: Vitamin A was the first fat-soluble vitamin to be recognized, and has been a source of intrigue to researchers because of it’s versatile nature and ability to induce severe deficiency effects.1 Vitamin A plays a key role in promoting a healthy skin, vision, immune system, growth and bone health1.
Fiber: Butternut squash is also an excellent source of fiber, and a variety of minerals such as potassium. If you wish to enhance the fiber content even more, add left-over cooked, wild rice, about 1 cup. Adding cooked quinoa would raise both the protein and fiber content. For a “complete” gluten free, vegetarian meal, add 1 cup of wild rice + 1 cup of red kidney or pinto beans, rinsed and drained to the above mixture and heat through.
- Whitney and Rolfes, Understanding Nutrition. Sixth Edition.
Disclaimer: This blog is strictly for informational purposes only, and should not be construed as medical advice. Please consult your doctor or dietitian for recommendations tailored to your unique needs.