‘Vitamin A Rich’ Curried Winter Squash Soup For Natural Skin Health

Cynthia Bailey, MD|December 18, 2009

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My soup is truly food as medicine.....

  1. Winter squash is a vitamin A extravaganza! One cup of cooked winter squash has 450% of the recommended daily allowance of vitamin A .
  2. Your skin loves vitamin A so this soup is a great prescription for your skin's health.
  3. The vitamin A in winter squash is in the form of beta-carotene which has antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and possibly anticancer benefits.
  4. Winter squash is also a great source of fiber, folate, omega 3 fatty acids and a lot of other important vitamins and minerals.
  5. As if that's not enough, the curry powder in this soup contains turmeric which has even more anticancer benefits.

I grow a lot of winter squash in my summer garden.  This year my favorite variety is the beautiful Italian squash Marina Di Chioggia with its green bumpy surface and delicious rich orange flesh.  These attractive squash make great fall décor, and then yummy winter dinner. Now is the time for me to start cooking up these pretty nutritional treasures.

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Marina Di Chioggia squash on the dining room table

My squash soup is SO EASY to make and a big time saver for me during the work week. I made a pot on Sunday and it stretched for several night's dinners. I ‘brown bag’ my lunch every day at work and I brought the soup in a glass microwavable container for  easy lunches.  This soup freezes beautifully and what we didn’t finish this week, I froze in freezer safe containers; in a month or so I’ll welcome a little more soup as an additional course to a weekend lunch or dinner. My squash  soup recipe is very forgiving and thus these proportions are approximate. I use whatever size squash I have and just add more or less water to get the consistency I want.  I also vary the amount of the other ingredients to get flavor I want.

Ingredients

  • 1 medium/large orange flesh winter squash (my favorites are butternut, buttercup and Marina Di Chioggia)
  • 1/8 cup canola oil
  • 2 t black mustard seeds
  • 3T curry powder
  • 2 large tart apples peeled and cored
  • 1 medium onion
  • 10 medium garlic cloves peeled and smashed
  • 1 ¼ T finely chopped or grated ginger (optional)
  • 4 cups or so of broth (chicken or vegetable)
  • Salt to taste

Soup Topping Options: Kefir or plain yogurt, grated coconut, raw slivered almonds, raisins or dried cranberries, chopped apples, chutney, chopped parsley

To prepare the soup: Cook the squash in the oven by cutting it in ½ or ¼ and removing the seeds. Place the cut squash  skin down in shallow roasting pan with a little water (about 1/2 inch of water in the bottom of the pan) and cook at anywhere from 350 to 450  until the squash is soft and scoop-able.  (The roasting time depends on the size of your squash and oven temperature) You could also roast it skin side down in a dry pan at 500 for 50 minutes or so for a more 'roasted' flavored soup.  You choose how you like to cook the squash, just keep an eye on it while it's cooking. 

When your squash is cooked and soft, let it cool so that you can handle it and then scoop the orange pulp from the skin and set it aside. In a heavy soup pan or dutch oven add the oil and the mustard seeds and cook on low heat until the seeds start popping (a minute or so), be careful not to burn them.  Stir in the curry powder and cook for 1 minute.  Add the onions, apples, squash pulp, garlic, ginger and broth.  Bring to a boil, lower heat and simmer 20 minutes or so until everything is soft.  If you want a silky consistency, puree the soup with a food processor, or even easier, a hand held blender.  For a thinner consistency, add more water.  Season to taste with salt.

To serve, ladle the soup into bowls and serve it topped with your choice of the topping items above.  I like to add chutney, coconut, dried cranberries, my home brewed kefir and raw almonds.  These healthy toppings further enhance the nutritional benefit of this vitamin rich meal.  (Remember, don’t cook the kefir because it kills the beneficial probiotic microorganisms).   

My squash soup is a nutrition bonanza and a big time saver.  Served with a salad, it makes a very nice winter meal.

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