Spicy butternut squash soup with turmeric: Bidding a delicious farewell to fall with this ravishing, butternut squash soup: finger-licking good, and just as good for you!
As fall turns inevitably to winter, I am tempted to cash in on the in-season, luscious, butternut squash that is still available in abundance at my neighborhood grocery store. Strangely this fleshy, vibrantly orange fruit (yes, it’s a fruit, but used as a vegetable in most recipes), has its origins right here in Massachusetts, where I live. The yogurt-hot pepper sauce gives this heart-warming soup an unexpected, South Western flair, that’s sure to whet the appetite and have your family slurping it straight out of the bowl. Do not forget to scroll to the bottom of the recipe for the nutrient punch that just a pinch of turmeric can give!
Yield: 5, 1/2 cup servings
- 2.5-3 cups butternut squash, cubed
- 1/2 medium onion, diced
- 1 tbsp finely chopped garlic
- 2 tbsp olive oil, divided, + 1 tsp olive oil
- Full fat Greek yogurt, 1/3 cup + 2-3 tbsp for garnish
- 1-2 small green chilies, seeded, chopped
- Cilantro leaves, small bunch, about 1/4 cup, finely chopped, + 1-2 tbsp for garnish
- 1/2 tsp salt, divided
- Pepper to taste
- Cumin 1/4 tsp
- 1.5 cups vegetable broth
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
- Grease a rimmed baking sheet with the one teaspoon of oil and set aside.
- Transfer the squash to a medium bowl.
- Add the diced onion to the squash in the bowl, and toss with 1 tbsp olive oil, 1/2 the salt and pepper.
- Spread over the baking sheet and roast in the oven for 30-35 minutes, turning about 3-4 times during the process, until the squash becomes fork tender.
- Remove from the oven and transfer roasted squash and the mildly caramelized onions to a platter and set aside
- In a food processor, combine the 1/3 cup of yogurt, the chopped green chilies and 1/4 cup of the cilantro and set aside
- Heat the remaining tbsp of olive oil in a medium saucepan.
- Add chopped garlic till it turns a mild, golden brown.
- Add the roasted onion-squash to the pan, sauteing until blended.
- Add 1.5 cups vegetable broth and bring mixture to a rolling boil, then allow to simmer on low heat.
- Stir the yogurt-chilli mixture into the saucepan.
- Using a hand blender, puree the contents of the saucepan.
- Add the cumin, the remaining salt and pepper, stirring well. Season to taste and let simmer for about 5-8 minutes on low heat.
- Ladle into bowls and serve hot, garnished with the reserved yogurt and reserved cilantro.
Registered Dietitian’s tip:
Oxidative stress and inflammation have been linked to chronic disease. Curcumin, a phenolic antioxidant, is the active ingredient in the spice called turmeric, a native of India. It has been shown in some studies to display potent, antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Curcumin has been used in Ayurvedic medicine dating back thousands of years, however its bio availability has recently been called into question. According to NIH, preliminary studies demonstrate curcumin may be beneficial in reducing heart attacks after bypass surgery, may be as effective as ibuprofen in controlling knee pain and may reduce skin irritation after radiation treatment. Moreover, a recent systematic review and analysis of randomized controlled trials (RCTs), of curcumin in treating arthritis showed that it could be used as adjunct therapy to treat arthritis, but there was also evidence to support the use of larger clinical trials that may ultimately support it’s use as standard therapy for arthritis, as well as other inflammatory conditions. That said, while curcumin holds great promise as a potential therapeutic agent to help mitigate many inflammatory conditions, more studies are warranted. While numerous human clinical trials have demonstrated turmeric ‘s safety profile, at high doses, undesirable GI side effects such as nausea and diarrhea have been reported. Another potential limitation in clinical studies as mentioned before, is its limited bio availability.
So where does this leave you, the consumer? A nutrient punch in a pinch!
Bear in mind that turmeric has a very potent, almost bitter, pungent, flavor and just a pinch (less than 1/2 tsp in most dishes), goes a long way. So, until specific recommendations for curcumin dosage is supported by research, I would encourage you to simply cook with turmeric, rather than take it in supplement form. This is also in line with my philosophy of obtaining nutrients from whole foods in their natural form, rather than synthetic supplements. So go ahead and sprinkle dried, turmeric powder in a variety of recipes such as soups, curries, a variety of marinades and stir-fry dishes, starting in very small amounts (so as not to shock your taste buds), to enhance color, appearance and flavor.