Eat Squash, Not Slime (Roasted Squash Soup, That Is)

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Roasted squash soup: elegant on its own and a starting place for other recipes.

If you’re just tuning in, today is Part II of the squash series. Part I was the intro and prep, where we discussed ingredients and roasted our veggies.Today’s video brings this flavorful soup together in a few easy steps: chop, sauté, mix, blend, stir, done. I did a bit of editing to save some valuable minutes of your life. I mean, do you really need to see me blend soup for 40 seconds? I thought not.

Crazy Carotenoid Soup

Why “crazy carotenoid soup,” you ask? Well, better that than “crazy Cucurbita soup,” for starters, which refers to the winter squash genus. The sweet potatoes are in there this time just for variety, but all three bright orange vegetables are rich in the carotenoids alpha- and beta-carotene (like carrots). There are hundreds of carotenoids in nature that act powerfully in the body to promote health and prevent diseases like cardiovascular disease and cancers when consumed as part of a plant-based diet. These veggies also sport a few other key carotenoids, like lutein, zeaxanthin, and beta-cryptoxanthin (hence the “crazy carotenoid” name). They’re great sources of vitamins A and C and minerals like manganese and potassium; fiber, good starches, and many other phytonutrients are in there, too, all working together to reduce inflammation and increase insulin sensitivity, good things your body needs. Good for vision, too. Combine all that with the satiating power of soup and you’ve got a slime-free meal that will keep you healthy, satisfied, and coming back for more.

Perhaps over time, you’ll gradually come to see why soup is such a big part of my diet. And, incidentally, also makes a great gift.  After all, nothing says “I love you” better than soup. Except maybe diamonds. But soup is cheaper, so, yeah, go with that.

Cooking Notes

I mention in the video that this is my “basic” squash soup recipe but I want to be clear that “basic” does not equal “boring.”  It’s absolutely wonderful, and I encourage you to start with this foundation and then start playing once you get comfortable. Some people toss carrots and/or apples into the veggie mix. Others grate ginger or sprinkle in curry for an Asian flair. Maple syrup or honey provide sweetness and complexity, while cream contributes body and richness.  I’ve made all of these variations as the mood and market strikes, and they’re all superb and keep things interesting. Finally, you can steam the squash or boil it in the stock rather than roast it if you prefer, but roasting produces a far tastier soup as the flavors and sugars concentrate during the process. As well, roasting with a bit of olive oil, a healthy monounsaturated fat, increases both the “yum” and the absorption of all those wonderful fat-soluble nutrients. However you prepare it, you saw just how easy it is, so you don’t always need to go to Au Bon Pain, Whole Foods, or wherever you go to get your squash soup on. Now you can make it at home, share it with a friend, freeze it, and use it a base for additional variants, like I do.

Squash Beats Slime

It took loads of discipline to post Part II of my squash series today rather than a Jon Stewart / Stephen Colbert satiric duo on Pink Slime. (Slime? Squash. Slime!? Squash. Slime?…and so it went. ) For better—and occasionally worse—I’ll pretty much always go for funny over not, hence my motto, “Life is Short. Make it Funny.” That said, we really did need to move this squash soup video along so I can get to Part III, a Vietnamese coconut curry noodle soup, which is actually one of the best new dishes I’ve made this year. Stay tuned for that, and fear not the heat of the soup – you can make it as sweet or fiery as your little tastebuds desire.

Oh, and I did post a link to the Colbert video on my Facebook page, so you can check it out there if you’re so inclined; I’ll get the set up on my blog at some point, perhaps.  In the meanwhile, dude, it’s beef. I mean, bro, it’s slime.

Whatever you call it, we can avoid the whole matter completely with squash.

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Dr. P.K. Newby is a nutrition scientist, speaker, and author with expertise in all things food, farm to fork, whether preventing obesity and other chronic diseases through diet or teaching planet-conscious eating. As a health expert and food personality, she brings together her passions for food, cooking, science, and sustainability to educate and inspire, helping people eat their way towards better health, one delectable bite at a time. Healthy Hedonism (TM) is her philosophy: Because healthy food shouldn’t suck.

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