Eating seasonally has many benefits. Locally grown foods spend more time on the vine and have more nutrients. With less distance to travel it’s better for the environment. It tastes better and it’s usually less expensive. Plus, I love feeling more in tune with nature through the seasons so it can also be a mood booster.
When you listen to your body as Fall approaches, you may have a taste for root vegetables, soups and stews. Years ago, on a trip to Paris, I was sitting in a little cafe on the Champs Elyse and used the little bit of French I could remember to order a bowl of vegetable soup. I was served a silky-smooth pureed soup that to this day was one of the most delicious soups I’ve ever tasted. I’m not sure what was in it, but I have tried to recreate this recipe using butternut squash.
Squash is a Fall vegetable here in the Midwest and considered a warming and grounding vegetable in Ayurveda. One cup of butternut squash offers 6.6 grams of fiber and 1.8 grams of protein. Butternut squash is packed with vitamins A and C and is a good source of magnesium, potassium and calcium. Plus, all the other vitamins and nutrients from the other vegetables. If you’re using homemade stock or broth, think bone broth. You’re getting collagen and protein from your stock. Soup can make a nice replacement to a salad with dinner or as a light lunch. If you enjoy this soup on its own, I recommend adding a bit more protein on the side. I love black pepper, but you may prefer to try some of your favorite fall warming spices like turmeric, nutmeg, clove or ginger.
Great for Meal Prep
This soup can be made on a chilly weekend afternoon, frozen and enjoyed during the week. I have also frozen it in individual Pyrex serving containers for easy heating in the microwave at work. I use a heavy bottomed Dutch Oven or Saute pan. I have Le Creuset pans which are enamel coated cast iron. If you don’t have one, use a soup pot or large sauté pan.
Time Saving Tips
I buy a whole butternut squash, peel it, remove the seeds and cut it into cubes. If you’re busy and prefer an easier route, some stores sell pre-cut butternut squash in their refrigerator section near all the salads and pre-cut veggies. I like to use homemade chicken stock, but if time is of the essence, using a good quality chicken stock or broth will work as well.
Can Be Adapted to Vegetarian or Vegan
If you follow a vegetarian or vegan diet, replace the chicken stock with vegetable stock and omit the half and half and Greek yogurt topping.
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
3 carrots, peeled and chopped
3 celery stalks, chopped
2 leeks, cleaned and sliced
1 butternut squash, peeled and cut into cubes
4-6 cups chicken stock
½ teaspoon cumin
½ teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon salt
½-1 teaspoon black pepper
2 tablespoons half and half
Optional toppings- Greek yogurt, pumpkin seeds, parsley
Note that for your stock or broth I have 4-6 cups. This will depend on how thick or thin you like your soup. I used 5 cups of stock the last time I made it and it was perfect.
Heat a heavy bottomed Dutch Oven or saucepan over medium, add olive oil, onions, celery and carrots. Saute for 4-5 minutes stirring frequently till onions become translucent. Add in leeks and butternut squash, sauté for another 3-4 minutes stirring occasionally to keep vegetables cooking evenly. Add chicken or vegetable stock and bring to a simmer. Add in spices and salt and pepper and partially cover. Simmer for 40 minutes to an hour stirring occasionally. You’ll know the soup is ready to be pureed when squash feels soft when pierced with a fork. Cool slightly then blend with either a handheld immersion blender or ladle into a blender and puree until smooth. Add back into the pot, add half and half and taste for seasoning. (If making vegetarian or vegan it will not hurt your recipe to leave out the half and half.)
Serve in a pretty bowl, top with Greek yogurt, pumpkin seeds or parsley and enjoy. This soup also freezes well for meal prep. Serves six.