Fall for These Sensational Squash Soups

Healthnotes Newswire (October 29, 2009)—Acorn, buttercup, butternut, delicata, hubbard, spaghetti, turban—a bounty of colorful winter squash and pumpkins overflow grocery produce tables every fall. A fruit (really!) native to North America, and a member of the gourd family like melons and pumpkins, squash is super-easy to stir into hearty autumn soups.

Add squash to your diet for good health

“Winter squashes, especially pumpkin, are one of the most nutritionally valuable foods known to man,” says Steven Pratt, MD, coauthor of SuperFoods. Loaded with good-for-you nutrients, the richly colored interior flesh is the first clue to squashes’ nutritional benefits, which include:

• Large amounts of carotenoids, the deep orange-, yellow-, or red-colored plant compounds that help fight a variety of diseases, including heart disease, various cancers, and eye diseases

• Vitamins C and E, plus potassium, magnesium, and folic acid

• High in fiber

• Low in calories

Make an easy squash soup the star of your weeknight menu

For a quick and easy squash soup, use fresh, canned, or frozen squash, or canned 100% pumpkin purée (not pumpkin pie mix, which includes sugar and spices) as the soup base.

To prepare squash—If using fresh squash, peel a thin-skinned variety such as hubbard or butternut. Cut squash in half and use a large spoon to remove seeds and any fibers; cut squash into 2-inch (5 cm) chunks and set aside. Two 1-pound (.45 kg) squash will serve four people.

If a squash is difficult to peel, or if you are using a different variety from the two above, use a small knife to poke a few holes in the squash; then bake at 350°F (177°C) for 40 minutes or microwave for 12 minutes before slicing.

To make savory curried squash soup—Using a heavy 5.5-quart (5 L) pot, sauté 1/3 cup (53 g) diced yellow onion in 1 tablespoon (15 ml) olive oil until translucent (about 5 minutes). Add squash, 1 quart (951 ml) chicken or vegetable stock, and 2 cups (475 ml) water. Cook covered over medium heat until squash is soft and blends into stock. Add more stock to thin mixture, if desired. Add 1/2 tablespoon (3.15 g) curry powder (or to taste), salt and pepper to taste, and 1 cup (238 ml) half-and-half; stir to blend. Serve hot, but do not let soup boil after adding half-and-half.

Judith Dern is a veteran of national consumer public relations agency programs for both commodity board food products and branded manufactured foods. She is coauthor of The Sustainable Kitchen: Passionate Cooking Inspired by Fields, Farms and Oceans (2004, New Society Publishers). Her articles have appeared in publications such as Relish, Cooking Light, Seattle Homes & Lifestyles, Northwest Palate, and Woman’s Day Special Interest Christmas Publications. She has also served as copywriter and ghostwriter on several cookbooks and has written on food for regional and national organizations. A member of the International Association of Culinary Professionals (IACP), she was awarded the Harry A. Bell Grant for Food Writers in 2003.

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