Curry Spiced Butternut Squash & Cauliflower Soup

My Curry Butternut Squash & Cauliflower Soup, with a little heat from cayenne pepper, warms the soul on cold winter days. This soup is made with two nutrient dense vegetables, which are low in fat, low in carbohydrates and high in dietary fiber.  Winning!

Technically a fruit, the butternut squash has a particularly high level of vitamin A and also has a high level of vitamin C. It has more potassium than a banana and its color indicates an abundance of carotenoids, which is believed to protect against heart disease.

When buying butternut squash, select the fruit that feels heavy for its size with a matte and unblemished skin. A glossy skin indicates that the squash was picked too early and will not be as sweet. Stored in a cool dry place with ventilation, not in the refrigerator, this fruit has a storage life of up to three months!

In an effort to increase the nutritional value of my recipes, I like to incorporate a variety of vegetables.  For this soup, I paired the butternut squash with cauliflower.  Cauliflower is a good source of vitamin C and contains folate. It is also a good source of minerals, including iron, calcium and potassium.

I prefer to roast the butternut squash, cauliflower and apple rather than boiling them to make this soup.  Roasting is one of my favorite ways to cook vegetables and allows the flavors to develop and intensify.

I used a Dutch oven and an immersion blender to make this soup however you can use a blender too. I do recommend investing in an inexpensive immersion blender.  They are easy to clean up and you can use it while the soup is still in the pot.

Serving size: 6

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups of butternut squash, peeled and cut into 1 inch cubes
  • 3 cups of cauliflower, cut into large florets
  • 1 cup finely diced sweet onion (half of a large onion)
  • 1 Granny smith apple, peeled and cut into cubes
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic (about 2 cloves or 1 large clove)
  • 1 teaspoon fresh rosemary, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon curry powder
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon cumin
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper (use a pinch of cayenne to start if you do not like it spicy)
  • 6 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 6 tablespoons crème fraiche (optional)
  • fresh parsley (optional garnish)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400F.

When preparing the butternut squash, use a very sharp knife. Cut a thin layer off the top and bottom to create a level surface. Then remove the skin using a vegetable peeler and scrape the seeds out with a spoon.

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When cutting the squash, cauliflower and apple, try to create even pieces. This will ensure even roasting.

Toss butternut squash, cauliflower and apple in 2 tablespoons olive oil. Place on baking sheet lined with aluminum foil. Season with salt and pepper and roast in 400F oven for about 25-30 minutes until tender. Turn the fruits and vegetable over at least once to ensure even roasting.

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You may need to remove the apple cubes before the butternut squash or cauliflower is finished roasting.

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In a Dutch oven, sauté onion in 1 tablespoon olive oil until tender and translucent.

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Add garlic cloves, rosemary, curry powder, salt, cumin and cayenne pepper and sauté for another couple of minutes. Remove the onion mixture from heat if the fruits and vegetables are not done roasting to avoid burning the onion and garlic.

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Minced garlic and rosemary.

Once the butternut squash, cauliflower and apple are done roasting, add them to the onion mixture. Add vegetable broth and honey.  Simmer for 15 minutes.

Using an immersion blender, puree the mixture until smooth. You can also use a blender. If using a blender, add only a couple ladles full of soup at a time. Place a kitchen towel over the lid and hold down with your hand. This is to prevent the hot liquid from pushing out of the lid and burning your hand. Gently pulse to start, then blend until smooth.

Taste soup and adjust seasoning to your liking. Serve with a dollop of crème fraiche on top and garnish with fresh parsley.

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Chicken Vegetable Soup

Chicken vegetable soup, on its own, or with egg noodles and rice, is one of my favorite, satisfying and fast, “go to” meals.  It’s easy to bring to work for lunch or heat up after an evening workout for dinner.  When I’m carbo-loading, I often add cooked rice and eat it on several days during the week prior to a race.  Chicken vegetable and rice soup was part of my 3:30 am breakfast on the morning of my first Ironman.  Unfortunately, that soup came out of a can since I was away from home.  Here is the homemade version that I’ve been making and enjoying for years.

Ingredients:

  • 1 ½ cups or ½ of large white onion (chopped)
  • 2 TBS olive oil
  • 2 – 32 ounce chicken broth*
  • 6 cups cold water
  • 1 chicken breast with bone and skin on
  • 10 carrots (peeled and sliced about ½ inch thick; I prefer a soup hearty with vegetables so slice the carrots to your thickness preference)
  • 8 celery stocks; slice stalks lengthwise into 3rds or 4ths then dice
  • celery leaves
  • 3 parsley stems with leaves
  • 3 sprigs of fresh thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 5 turns of pepper mill (season to taste)
  • ½ tsp salt
  • Cooked egg noodle*s or cooked rice (optional)

* NOTE: If you are a gluten-free diet, ensure that the ingredients you are using are gluten-free.

Equipment:

  • 12 quart stock pot
  • Cheesecloth

Directions:

Rinse chicken breast and set aside.  In stock pot, sauté onion in olive oil until softened (about 10 minutes).  Add broth, water and chicken breast to onions.  Place lid on pot an bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer for 20 minutes.

While broth is simmering, make a “mirepoix” by placing the celery leaves, parsley stems, thyme and bay leaf in cheesecloth and tie into a bundle.

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A mirepoix can be a combination of celery, onions, and carrots. There are many mirepoix variations, which can sometimes be just one of these ingredients, or include additional spices. You can add whole peppercorns to this mirepoix.

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Add the mirepoix, carrots, celery, salt and pepper to the pot. Continue to simmer for at least 1 more hour however the longer you simmer the more the flavor will develop.

After an hour or more, remove the chicken.  Remove and discard the chicken skin.  Pull apart meat with a fork and place a few pieces into individual bowls.  Ladle soup with vegetables into individual bowls.  You can add your favorite cooked egg noodles (I like the no-yolk egg noodles) or cooked rice.  If you don’t want the carbs, leave the noodles and rice out.

If you have time to make the soup in advance, chill it in the refrigerator before serving.  The fat will rise to the top and solidify making it easy to spoon off and discard.  Store the cooked chicken separately from the broth and vegetables.  The broth and vegetables freezes well.  You can boil a fresh chicken breast when you are ready to defrost and eat the frozen soup.

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Saute the onions until softened, approximately 10 minutes. Do not allow it to brown.
I prefer a hearty soup, loaded with vegetables.  You can even add parsnips, a root vegetable related to the carrot.
I prefer a hearty soup, loaded with vegetables.
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The leaves inside the celery stalk (top left) adds a lot of flavor to the soup. Use it for your “mirepoix”. The celery stalks can be cut up to any size. I prefer smaller bites of celery with each spoonful of soup.

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