I love pumpkin as my previous couple of posts have shown, but I think I like another source of carotenoids even more. I’m not talking about sweet potatoes, even though I love those year round too, I am talking about butternut squash! It is great roasted because you can eat it by itself, on a salad, on pizza, or even in an omelet, but soup just hits the spot as the weather gets cooler. Many butternut squash soups are absolutely filled with cream, butter, salt, more cream and more salt. Not only are those ingredients that anyone should be limiting in their diet, but they also totally take away from butternut squash’s already great flavor! In this recipe, I compliment that great flavor with garlic, leeks and rosemary. The last time I made the soup , I thought to add freshly baked beet chips and I must say I have to give myself a pat on the back! The sweet yet earthy flavors of the chips were a perfect compliment and added great texture too!
A couple of products I believe really make this soup great are the oil and broth. I recently picked up Roasted Butternut Squash Seed Oil from the Tubby Olive here in Newtown. Tubby is an awesome local business that sells specialty olive oils and vinegars and chances are there is a similar local store near where you live. Specialty olive oils are “in” right now so the stores are popping up all over the US. Back to this particular oil though — I hesitated to buy the full size when we were there thinking I wouldn’t get enough use out of it but I can use it with pretty much every single fall recipe I make!
It was a perfect compliment to this soup but I have also used it with roasted brussels sprouts and onions, in quinoa, and just on salads with the Fall Blend Balsamic I picked up there too.
Now for the broth. I have been using Trader Joe’s brand low sodium, organic vegetable broth for years now. It is very substantial and hearty. No other low sodium veg broth that I have purchased compares, as other brands typically are extremely watery. I will be honest, I hardly ever have time to make my own broth!! This one clocks in at 140 mg per cup. That means less in the entire container than in 1 cup of Swanson brand original!
Spiced Butternut Squash and Leek Soup
Vegan, Gluten Free
- 1 Tablespoon butternut squash seed oil (or olive oil)
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- White & light green of 3 leeks, halved and thinly sliced
- 1 x 2-3 lb butternut squash, pre-baked
- 1 Tablespoon fresh rosemary, chopped (or 1/2 tablespoon dried)
- 4 Cups (1 container) low-sodium vegetable broth
- 1/2 teaspoon fresh oregano (or 1/4 teaspoon dried)
- Optional: 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- Dash of ground nutmeg
- Fresh ground black pepper to taste
- First, heat oven to 350 degrees F to bake the squash. I typically do this when prepping for the week ahead but you can do it the day of too. Carefully cut the squash in half and then scoop out the seeds. Save them and rinse pulp off to roast the seeds as I instruct here in a spaghetti squash recipe. Rub a very small amount of oil on the surface of the squash and bake face down on a baking sheet or in a glass baking dish for 30-40 minutes, until tender.
- While the squash is baking, mince your garlic, dice the leeks and cut the rosemary.
- Over low-medium heat, add the oil, let heat and then add the garlic. Let cook 1-2 minutes.
- Next, add the leeks, stir well, and cover for 3-4 minutes.
- Add the butternut squash, rosemary, and other spices and stir. Immediately add the vegetable broth, cover and let come to a boil.
- Reduce heat once the soup comes to a boil, and get out your immersion blender*. Pulse the blender on medium until the soup has a creamy consistency. Turn the heat off and you’re done!
*If you don’t have an immersion blender, you can add the mixture to a blender or food processor, but I recommend letting it cool before doing so, and then heating the soup back up to serve.
And for the beet chips! I don’t need to reinvent the wheel on this one. I started making beet chips intuitively on my own, but don’t need to make a whole blog post on it because other bloggers have posted virtually identical recipes. The recipe I follow is fairly simple and the best instructions and cooking temp I have found to give you online are via “Minimalist Baker“.
- 3 medium-large beets, rinsed and scrubbed
- Olive or canola oil
- Sea Salt + Black Pepper
- 2-3 sprigs rosemary, roughly chopped
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees F and place oven rack in the center of the oven.
- Thinly slice beets with a mandolin (or a sharp knife), getting them as consistently thin as possible. They should curl a little when cut. This will ensure even baking and crispiness.
- Divide between two baking sheets and spray or very lightly drizzle with olive oil. Add a pinch of salt and the rosemary. Toss to coat, then arrange in a single layer, making sure the slices aren’t touching.
- Bake for 15-20 minutes or until crispy and slightly brown. Be sure to watch closely past the 15 minute mark as they can burn quickly.
- Remove from oven, let cool. Then serve.
Real Ingredients with Real Health Benefits
Each 1 Cup serving of butternut squash you eat provides 4x your Vitamin A needs for the day as well as half of your needs for vitamin C! You’ll even get Vitamins E and some B vitamins from this nutrient powerhouse as well as good amounts of magnesium and potassium. The phytochemical carotenoids & bioflavonoids in butternut squash are known to boost immunity and work as antioxidants that support the hearth, eyes and even work to prevent some cancers.
Garlic & leeks are all part of the same family, providing the phytochemicals allicin and sulfides which are linked to improved immunity and respiratory health. Both onions & leeks provide Vitamin C. Onions are also a great source of vitamins B6 and folate while leeks contribute vitamins A & K in great amounts as well as the mineral manganese.
Rosemary contains carnosol which has been found in studies to be an anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory compound and carnosic acid that has neuro-protective (brain &nervous system protective) properties. Some studies show it can aid the GI tract too and as an oil, it has also been used for centuries to improve circulation! Per weight it has a high content of nutrients but since we consume small smounts of it, it provides a little folate, riboflavin, and vitamins A & C as well as the minerals iron, calcium and potassium.