There's this ugly misconception that home cooking and healthy eating are complicated and lack flavor. I'm going to dispel this myth with an easy recipe that brings on huge flavor and a lot of nutritioanl oomph. The ingredients are super simple: Start with a butternut squash, which is rich in vitamin A--very important for our immune system this time of year by supporting our skin and mucous memberanes to repel bacteria and viruses! I encourage you to buy a whole squash, peel and chop it, but if you're short on time, buy the squash that comes pre-cut. Just be sure to buy it the day that you're going to use it, since those pre-cut vegetables lose nutrients every day they sit uneaten.
You'll add a chopped onion and some fresh ginger and cilantro. Fresh ginger is a potent anti-inflammatory (and it's also great for digestion). Cilantro has a nice list of phytochemicals that are powerful antioxidants, as do onions. Use leeks for an extra nutritional boost and a mellow flavor. The last main ingredient is a can of light coconut milk, not to be confused with coconut beverage found in the refrigerated section or coconut water. The ingredients should be coconut and maybe guar gum--nothing else.
What you'll end up with is a soup that is rich, creamy and flavorful with very little work! Let me know if you give this one a try...
- 1 medium butter nut squash, peeled, seeded and cubed into 1-inch chunks (about 2 pounds of squash)
- 3.5 cups of water
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 15 sprigs of fresh cilantro, rinsed to remove any dirt
- 6 x 1/4 inch slices of fresh unpeeled ginger, smashed with the side of your knife to open up the fibers a bit
- 1 teaspoon sea salt plus more to taste
- A squeeze of lime juice or 1 tablespoon of rice vinegar
- Optional: Raw pumpkin seeds and additional cilantro for garnish
Put all of the ingredients excluding the lime juice or vinegar into a large soup pot and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat, cover and simmer for 30 minutes or until squash is cooked through and very soft. Remove the cilantro stems and ginger slices. Puree part of all of the soup using a blender or immersion blender, and finish with adding the lime juice or vinegar, and additional salt to taste as needed. Garnish with pumpkin seeds and/or cilantro if you like.
Serve with a big green salad for a complete meal. This recipe was inspired by a similar recipe in Jack Bishop's A Year in a Vegetarian Kitchen, complete with vegetable-filled meals to suit all tastes--including meat-eaters.
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