Healthy “Creamy” Curried Butternut Squash Soup

This recipe is a snap to whip up in less than 20 minutes (yes I said less than 20 minutes), and with the light coconut milk and the spicy curry, make it quite a unique version, and universal hit amongst those whom I have shared this with.   This recipe is  so nutrient dense and healthy , yet at the same time sophisticated enough to “wow” your friends at any dinner party.  Great as an Amuse-bouche in a shot glass at a fancy dinner or party reception, as an appetizer, or main dish.   From my own experience, I can assure you that this is a real crowd pleasing dish!

I make “Butternut Squash” soup all the time, yet through trial and error, find this version to really showcase the kind of depth, creaminess, flavor and balance, not frequently utilized in traditional butternut squash soup.  Even if you think you don’t like curry, I think you’ll find that in this recipe, the yellow curry addition, takes the flavor and exotic “wow” factor to a whole new level.  I really worked hard to hit my perfect Fat/Acid/Sugar/Salt balance  in this soup recipe to create a taste filled/ harmonic balance of  layered flavor notes in this recipe.  I also include tips on how you can “customize” this recipe to create the perfect dimension of flavors that works best for your palate.  I hope you love it as much as me, and if you do, please be sure to share your own photos and versions wither here on my blog in the comments section, as well as on my FB page.

* Special Note for chemotherapy patients or persons experiencing weight loss from chronic illness and need to up the caloric density to the foods your eating: I ate this while going through massive amounts of chemo and radiation, and this was one of my favorite foods to eat while I was sick, nauseated, and losing weight.  The spicy curry and the creamy coconut flavor really “knocks out” that yucky chemo flavor,  and the soup itself, so delicious I just kept eating more.  If you need to put on some weight or add  extra calories due to cancer or illness related weight loss, just use regular full calorie coconut milk (and heavy cream)  to really crank up the calorie density!

*To lower the calorie and fat content in this recipe even further: omit the coconut milk and use the full amount of chicken stock when doing the puree in the blender

Ingredients:

  • 2 1/2 cups chopped butternut squash
  • 1 small onion chopped
  • 1 can light coconut milk (Regular can be used but I prefer light for less calories and can’t taste the difference)
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons yellow curry ( I use 2, but I really like curry, so 1 tablespoon might be enough for most)
  • 1 1/2 cups of chicken stock
  • 1 lemon to squeeze to taste (preferably Meyer Lemon, its less bitter)
  • 1 tablespoon of oil or butter
  • Grade B Maple Syrup or sweetener of choice (Optional to sweeten ONLY if necessary)
  • Salt to taste
  • White pepper to taste (optional, and I used white pepper because you don’t “see” it in the soup, you can use regular pepper if you like)

 

Directions:

  1. Heat oil or butter over medium heat
  2. add onion and a dash of salt, and saute for 3 to 5 minutes until translucent and soft
  3. Add butternut squash and stir to coat with oil
  4. Saute the butternut squash for aprox 3 minutes
  5. pour in chicken stock, either the entire cup and a half, or just until it covers the top of the squash
  6. Bring stock to a low boil, turn down and then simmer, for aprox 10 minutes or until the squash is tender and can be pierced with a fork
  7. Pour the squash and only 1/2 of the stock into a vita mix/blender and puree, the consistency should be like a thick milkshake when through
  8. Return squash puree to the original pan on the stove and add the coconut milk, gently stirring
  9. Add curry
  10. Heat over medium, and squeeze in lemon to brighten up flavor
  11. Add salt to taste
  12. Taste and if the soup needs a little sweetening to brighten it up, add in a teaspoon or so of maple syrup (I choose maple syrup grade B because its healthier, but you can use whatever sweetener you have on hand or prefer)

Special Note:  As with any soup, but this one in particular, I find that creating that “perfect” balance  between the Acid/Sugar/Salt can really make a huge difference in the final soup masterpiece you have created.  Each time you make this soup, or any, is different.  So learn to  “play” around with it once your done with the final steps, taste and adjust.  With this soup you can make very subtle yet poignant adjustments to the overall final product just by playing around with the  salt, acid (lemon juice to “brighten it up”), and sweet.  The coconut milk and squash are naturally a little sweet so you may find you don’t need to enhance the sweetness at all, or just a teaspoon of maple syrup, sugar or sweetener.  Its up to you!

Serve and Enjoy!

Nutrition Facts
via Spark People Calorie Counter

 

 

 

  4 Servings
Amount Per Serving
  Calories 92.1
  Total Fat 1.6 g
  Saturated Fat 0.3 g
  Polyunsaturated Fat 0.4 g
  Monounsaturated Fat 1.0 g
  Cholesterol 1.9 mg
  Sodium 374.3 mg
  Potassium 720.4 mg
  Total Carbohydrate 19.5 g
  Dietary Fiber 4.5 g
  Sugars 0.6 g
  Protein 3.1 g

 

 

 

 

 



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Mock “Creamy Mint English Pea Soup”

 

I decided to make this when I was at the Farmer’s Market this past Sunday, and one of the farmer’s had gorgeous baskets of these fresh peas already shucked.  I was planning a dinner for my boyfriend’s mom’s house that night and figured this would be perfect.  This recipe is super fast and easy to make, especially when you’re pressed for time.  From star to finish, this recipe only took me about 30 minutes to make.

You can use fresh peas (or even frozen peas) and to add the creamy flavor I used non fat Greek yogurt. It’s a great way to crank up the protein, while at the same time adding a really nice sophisticated dimension  of creaminess. Also, adding fresh lemon really brightens up the entire flavor profile.  This recipe is only for 2 servings, but just double or triple it if you need extra.

Ingredients:

  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/4 cup of chopped shallots
  • 1 tsp minced garlic
  • 2 cups fresh shelled English peas or frozen peas
  • 1 to 1 1/2 cups of fat free chicken broth (store bought ) or chicken stock
  • 1/4  cup fresh mint (or your desired level of “mint flavor”)
  • 1/2 cup to 3/4 cup fat free Greek Yogurt
  • fresh squeeze of half of one lemon (preferably Meyers)
  • Sea salt and fresh ground black pepper
  • *Optional: 2 tsp of low fat buttermilk or non fat milk

Directions:

  1. Heat the olive oil over medium heat,  add shallots, and garlic.  Cook until both are soft 6 to 8 minutes, stirring frequently.  They should not brown if this begins to happen,  turn down heat to low.
  2. Add peas, 1/2 of the mint, and broth, and fill with chicken broth to right above the top of the peas.
  3. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to medium low, simmer until the peas are tender, 8 to 10 minutes.
  4. Let pea mixture cool for a couple of minutes and then puree in batches in the blender until smooth.
  5. Wait for peas to cool a bit more, add a bit of Greek yogurt until reaching desired creaminess.
  6. Add the remaining amount of fresh mint to your desired taste (I only added a little bit)
  7. Squeeze some of the fresh lemon juice from the half lemon to your desired  taste
  8. Return mixture to the soup pot and gently reheat, making sure not to bring to a boil or the yogurt will curdle.
  9. For the presentation like in my photo, use buttermilk or any type of milk in a spoon and drizzle in a spiral.
  10. Serve and enjoy!

*Notes: Approx Nutrition per serving:  140 Calories, 10 grams of Protein, 17 grams of Carbohydrates, 1 gram of Fat, 2 grams of Sugar



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Spicy Thai Butternut Squash/Coconut Soup with Shrimp


This is a variation of a soup recipe I found on the Whole Foods recipe site, yet wanted to make it a little different.  This soup came out really nice and velvety, and although I really added extra heat, I will, add even more next time I make it.  I used already cubed butternut squash that is sold at Whole foods and then “light” coconut milk and nonfat organic chicken broth with some red Thai curry paste as the base.  I cooked the prawn separately and added them in at the end, but next time I make this I think I will add cubed chicken breast cooked ahead as well.  This dish can definitely tolerate more protein than the original recipe I was working with.  Also depending on your own personal tastes, play around with the garlic, red chili paste, and chili flakes to your specific likes.

I love Thai food in general, but it tasted especially good during chemo.  The heat and the spices kind of cover up that chemical flavor in your mouth, and soups were, for whatever reason, much easier to eat than whole foods.

Ingredients:

  • aprox 3 to 4 cups of cubed butternut squash
  • 1 small yellow onion
  • 3 cloves of garlic finely chopped and used generously for soup base and shrimp stir fry
  • 3 teaspoons finely chopped ginger
  • 3 teaspoons red curry paste (more to taste if you like… I like super spicy myself)
  • 2 teaspoons light brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 3 cups non fat chicken broth
  • 1 (14 ounce) can of light coconut milk
  • Red chili flakes (as desired…. I like lots because I love spicy food)
  • 1 lb medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • optional: 1 chicken breast pre cooked 1 inch cubed
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • Lime wedges

Directions:

1.  Take the butternut squash cubes and mix with a bit of olive oil and salt/pepper, and roast in oven @ 425 degrees for about 20 to 25 minutes.  You want it cooked enough to bring out the flavor, but not browned.  Pull from oven set aside.


2.  Heat oil in a large soup pot, oer medium high heat.  Add onion, garlic, and ginger.  Cook, stirring frequently, until “fragrant”, and the onion is translucent, about 5 to 7 minutes.  Stir in curry past (more if you want it spicier), sugar, and salt, stir and cook about a minute or two longer.

3.  Stir in the roasted squash, broth and coconut milk and bring to a low boil.  Reduce heat and simmer until squash is tender, 10 to 15 minutes.

4.  Take the soup, and pureed in batches in high speed blender and return to soup pot.

5.  In stir fry pan, heat oil with garlic and some chili flakes to stir fry shrimp in batches until done.

6.  Take shrimp and if using optional cubed chicken, add to the soup base

7.  Ladle into soup bowls, and sprinkle with the chopped cilantro and lime wedges

Nutrition per 17 oz serving:  250 calories, 60 from fat, 23 grams of protein, 26 grams of carbohydrates, 175 of cholesterol, 480 of sodium




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Super Quick Asian Noodle Super Veggie Soup

I make a variation of this recipe all the time.  This particular recipe is an exact replica of what I made when I came home last Sunday night to my boyfriend with a raging “Man Cold”.  He loves the “Chicken Magic Mineral Broth” and swears its “medicinal”.   So I defrosted some of my stock (but you can use any store bought chicken broth or stock) and added some veggies and pre cooked organic buckwheat soba noodles I had on hand.  If I make this again I will cook dry buckwheat soba noodles separately and then add right before serving

Ingredients:

  • 8 cups (aprox) of homemade chicken stock or store bought (if vegetarian use vegetable stock)
  • 1 6 oz package of pre cooked organic buckwheat soba noodles (purchased from Whole Foods)
  • 12 ounces of Shitake mushrooms (but you can use cremini, white, or any asian mushrooms)
  • 6 green onions, the whites and part of the greens chopped into small pieces (see photo below)
  • 6 ounces of bean sprouts
  • Salt to taste

Directions:

  • Heat stock or broth over medium high heat, do not let it get to a boil, low simmer o.k
  • Add the mushrooms and let them cook through and heat in the stock.
  • Add the pre-cooked buckwheat soba noodles and allow to warm up and seperate within the liquid.  If you decide to use dry noodles cook them separately in salted water and then add to stock or broth.
  • Add green onions and bean spouts right before ladling into bowl
  • Salt to taste
  • Serve and Enjoy!

This soup is naturally low in fat and calories, and high in nutrient density!

 




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Roasted Chicken Herbed “Magic Mineral” Stock

I  love making homemade stocks but used to only make them around big holiday dinners like Thanksgiving and Christmas.  I have to thank the “Cancer Fighting Kitchen” Chef, Rebecca Katz RD, for re introducing me to the true magic of having your own homemade stocks on hand.  They not only add complexity and depth to any dish you use them in, they can really crank up the nutritional and health benefits at the same time.   Additionally, they are great “tools” to have in your kitchen “pharmacy” for when you feel a little under the weather.   I swear these nutrient dense stocks have pulled me out of many colds over the past few years.  They are great for patients undergoing chemo who can only tolerate clear liquids, yet need as much nutrition as possible that you can infuse into that liquid.

Creating any type of stock, to me, is like composing a song, with each little ingredient representing a note or chord, and all the ingredients coming together to produce a beautiful little symphony.  Chef Rebecca Katz has her trademarked “Magic Mineral Broth” on her website at www.RebeccaKatz.com for anyone to use as a guideline for a mineral rich vegetable stock.  I usually never make the exact same stock twice, and kind of play around with the basic recipe. For my chicken stocks, I save all the bones left over from the rotisserie chickens we eat over a couple months, and keep in a zip lock bag in the freezer until I need them for “stock making day”.  I make a large amount of stock  and then freeze it in several  airtight containers or quart size zip lock bags.  They will last for 3 months frozen.

Ingredients:

  • 8 unpeeled carrots
  • 2 unpeeled yellow onions cut in chunks
  • 2 to 3 leeks, cut in thirds
  • 1 whole bunch of celery
  • 4 yellow potatoes, unpeeled and quartered
  • 2 unpeeled shallots
  • 1 bunch of Italian flat leaf parsley
  • 10 black peppercorns
  • 4 whole allspice or juniper berries
  • 3 Bay leaves
  • 1 freshly squeezed lemon
  • 4 sprigs of fresh rosemary (optional)
  • 4 sprigs of fresh thyme (optional)
  • 4 sprigs of fresh  lemon thyme (optional)
  • 8 quarts of water

Directions

  1. Rinse all the vegetables well, but no need to un-peel them.  In a large stock pot (12 – 16 quarts) combine all the ingredients and fill the pot with water until 2 inches below the rim, cover, and bring to a boil.
  2. Remove the lid, decrease the heat to low, and simmer uncovered for at least 2 hours (I usually simmer for about 4 or 5 hours.)  As the broth simmers, some of the water will evaporate; just add more to keep the vegetables covered.
  3. Strain broth through a large, coarse mesh sieve.  Stir in salt to taste, but you don’t need to use much.  I usually worry about the salt factor when I use my stock later.  I usually pour the stock back into the stock pot and refrigerate overnight.  The next day I skim off as much fat as I can, and then pour the stock into several airtight containers or bags, and freeze.

Notes:

  • Approx. Calories per serving: 50, Carbs: 11g, Protein:1 g, Sodium 145




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Creamy Lowfat Roasted Cauliflower Fennel Soup

I came up with this soup idea after having made roasted cauliflower and fennel  during a snowstorm in Tahoe, and thought “This would taste even better by a fire as a piping hot bowl of soup”.  It ended up being one of the first times I had ever made a soup “from the hip” that actually tasted great the first time.  Its so easy to make, yet tastes like it must be really complex.  You don’t need any fancy equipment or ingredients that are hard to find or use.  I found these ingredients all at my really basic local Raley’s in Tahoe the first time I made it.  If you want to keep it vegetarian, just use vegetable broth/stock  and don’t use the cream or milk.

Ingredients:

  • 1  2 lb (approx) Cauliflower  cut down to 1 inch size pieces
  • 2 medium sized fennel bulbs, ends cut off and quartered
  • 1 small onion diced
  • 32 ounce box of nonfat organic free range chicken broth or vegetable stock
  • Olive Oil
  • Sea Salt and Pepper to taste
  • 1 to 2 peeled minced cloves of garlic
  • Optional: 1/2 cup of organic half and half or whole milk if you want a creamy flavor

Directions:

  1. Heat oven to 425 degrees.  Toss the cauliflower and fennel with olive oil and salt, and spread on foil lined oiled cookie sheet
  2. Roast aprox 2o -25 minutes, watching closely that the vegetables do not brown more than a light color.  Remove  from oven
  3. In a soup pot, saute the garlic and onion in the pan with olive oil over medium heat about 5 minutes until just soft, but not browned
  4. Toss in the cauliflower and fennel in the pot and coat with olive oil, add some more salt and heat
  5. Take the broth (and water if you need a bit extra) and pour until it just covers the veggies in the pot
  6. Bring to a low simmer for just about 10 to 12 minutes until a knife can pierce through the cauliflower easily
  7. Remove from burner, and add to blender, and puree in small batches.  Return the pureed mixture to the soup pot
  8. Reheat over medium low to medium heat, and for a more creamier soup, add the organic half and half or milk.
  9. Add salt and pepper to taste

Notes:

  • Serves 4
  • Approx calories (without cream): 115 per serving, 6 g of healthy fat, 6 g of protein
  • Feel free to adjust this recipe to your own tastes by using more cauliflower, adjust the amount of cream or milk (you don’t have to use any) and try different spices  or topped with chopped parsley or fennel fronds.  Sometimes I drizzle a little white truffle oil to add a little sophistication.  Stores well up to 3 days.  This soup is naturally low in calories, and even with the addition of the organic cream or milk.

 

 

 

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