This is the season for winter squash! Look for acorn, hubbard, pumpkin, buttercup, delicata, kabocha, butternut, and so many others! I’m growing fonder of these nutritious and tasty veggies with each new recipe I try. Today I am sharing a particular favorite of mine that I make with the butternut squash I grow in my backyard garden.
(For lots of great information about the different kinds of winter squash see: All About Squash)
Winter squash is an excellent source of vitamin A and a very good source of other nutrients including vitamin C, manganese, dietary fiber, and potassium. Winter squash also provides a good source of vitamin B6, niacin, folate, copper, and thiamin. When butternut squash is served in soup the potassium present can be particularly beneficial.
That’s because the sodium level in soup, even homemade soup, can end up on the high side as we season for taste. Excess sodium, unfortunately, has the potential to negatively impact the natural ability of your blood vessels to relax and expand. Sodium also encourages your body to hold on to excess water so blood volume increases. Combine increased blood volume with less than flexible blood vessels and you have a recipe for increasing blood pressure. Over time high blood pressure can increase the chances of having a heart attack or stroke.
Fortunately, potassium encourages the body to excrete sodium and counteract the harmful effects of the excess. Winter squash averages about 406 mg of potassium per cup with butternut having about 582 mg (USDA National Nutrient Database). To put that in perspective, we need about 4,700 mg of potassium a day. However, the average American is getting about a half or less of that amount. In contrast, we need only 1,200 to 1,500 mg of sodium daily but get more in the range of 2,500 to 7,500 mg!
That’s one of many reasons why Butternut Squash Soup can be such a healthy choice. You get a good dose of potassium to counter the sodium in the soup. For more potassium serve the soup with a side salad of dark leafy greens for an additional healthy dose of potassium along with many other important nutrients! You do even better with cooked greens.
(Note: Fresh spinach has about 167 mg of potassium per cup. With cooked spinach you would get about 839 mg per cup. It takes a lot of fresh spinach to make one cup cooked! -USDA National Nutrient Database)
The Butternut Squash Soup recipe I’m sharing calls for roasting small cubes of squash at 400 degrees F before preparing the soup. The roasting gives the squash a deep caramelized flavor. This along with olive oil gives the soup a rich and buttery taste without all the saturated fat and cholesterol of butter and cream! When I tasted this soup for the first time I understood instantly how this squash might have gotten its name.
If you don’t have time for roasting you can cook the squash cubes directly in the broth. But the taste may not be quite as rich and creamy.
Butternut Squash Soup
(Makes 6-8 servings about 1 cup each)
1 3-pound butternut squash–peeled, seeded, and cut into 1-inch cubes (5-6 cups)
3 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
2 tsp. kosher salt (or regular iodized salt)
Pinch of freshly ground black pepper
1 Tbsp. butter
1 large yellow onion, diced (about 1 1/2 cups)
1 Tbsp. chopped fresh sage or 1-2 tsp. dried sage
6 cups chicken broth
Sprinkle freshly grated Parmesan cheese on top of each bowl
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. In a large bowl, toss the squash with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil, 2 teaspoons of the salt, and the pepper. Place the squash on a rimmed baking sheet and roast in an oven for 15 minutes or until they are caramelized; set aside.
In a Dutch oven or a large stockpot, heat the butter and the remaining oil over medium heat. Add the onion and sage and sauté, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are translucent and tender, 10 minutes. Add the squash, broth, and the remaining salt and bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer for 30 minutes or until the liquid is flavorful. Remove from heat. Using a blender or a food processor, blend the soup in batches until smooth. Return to the pot and keep war. Top with a little freshly grated Parmesan cheese.
(Note: My husband and I now have a handheld blender. Having such a blender can save a considerable amount of time and fuss because you blend in the original pot. We also have a new grater that works wonders for grating a small amount of a hard sharp cheese for added flavor in the food we eat without adding lots of calories, saturated fat, or cholesterol. To read more about the blender and grater you may want to read Kitchen Tools and Gadgets for Weight Loss and Better Health!)
Source: This recipe is a slightly modified version of an original from Real Simple Magazine.
Nutrients per serving (calculations based on 6 servings):
Fat: 9.2 grams
Protein: 3.3 grams
Saturated Fat: 2.2 grams
Sodium: 967 mg
Dietary Fiber: .5 grams
Vitamin A: 2458 IU
This really is a terrific, healthy and low calorie soup recipe. We love it. Hope you give the recipe a try! Enjoy!