Butternut Squash Soup With Cucumber Chutney: Health Benefits
The Colorful History of the Butternut Squash
This particular squash plant thrives in the eastern part of continental Canada and the United States, where you see it in markets during summer and autumn. The Eastern Woodlands Native Americans and other Native North American groups planted butternut and other types of squash as one of their Three Sisters food staples: corn, beans, and squash.
The vines of the squash could easily grow up the corn stalks, flower, and form the butternut squash. Often, a fish was placed in each hole in which the seeds of the Three Sisters were planted together. As the fish decayed, it acted as fertilizer. This is how the Native Americans taught the first English settlers to farm.
Interestingly, squash, cucumbers, and pumpkins are members of the same plant family: gourds, even those inedible types of gourds we use for decoration.
High-Quality Nutritional Benefits
Taken together, the edible varieties can make tasty meal combinations that provide a number of nutrients. These nutrients are
- phytonutrients (Vitamins E and C, Beta-carotene, Lycopene, Lutein-Zeaxanthin, and Selenium),
- additional vitamins and minerals, and
- antioxidants and anti-inflammatories.
These useful properties categorize these edible gourds as nutraceutical disease fighters like blackberries and blueberries.
Butternut Squash, One Cup Cooked
|Serving size: 1 Cup|
|Calories from Fat||0|
|% Daily Value *|
|Carbohydrates 21 g||7%|
|Sugar 4 g|
|Protein 2 g||4%|
|Cholesterol 0 mg|
|Sodium 8 mg|
|* The Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet, so your values may change depending on your calorie needs. The values here may not be 100% accurate because the recipes have not been professionally evaluated nor have they been evaluated by the U.S. FDA.|
Additional Nutrients (One Cup Cooked)
- Fat = 0.2 g, very little
- Vitamin A = 1,144 mcg
- Vitamin B6 = 0.3 mg
- Vitamin C = 31 mg
- Folate = 39 mcg
- Potassium = 582
- Also, 7 to 8% of the daily adult need for Calcium and Iron
Recipe for Butternut Squash Soup
6 cups chicken (or vegetable) broth
- One large butternut squash (2 to 3 pounds), peeled, seeded and cut into 2-inch cubes
- 5 springs of thyme
- 2 bay leaves
- 3 cloves of garlic, peeled and cut into large pieces
- 2 medium-sized leeks, chopped coarsely, using white and light green parts
- 2 celery ribs, cut into 2-inch pieces
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 slices of bacon cut into 2-inch pieces (meat is optional). Cubed ham may be substituted, or meat can be eliminated altogether. 1 small tart green apple can be substituted for a different variety of flavor.
- 2 cups tightly packed kale that has been chopped coarse
- 1 (14- to 16-ounce) can navy or pinto beans, drained. Any light-colored bean will be fine. Darker beans are fine if you like them, but they will darken the soup as well. Garbanzo beans can be substituted.
- 1 large carrot, diced
- 1 yellow or red bell pepper, diced
- 1 cup whole-kernel corn, fresh or canned, drained
- Salt and pepper to taste.
- Hot sauce if desired.
Preparation time is about 60 minutes.
- In a big soup pot, add the chicken or vegetable broth, cubes of squash, sprigs of thyme, garlic chunks, leek and celery pieces, and bring the mixture to a boil over medium high heat. Reduce the heat immediately to low and add 2 bay leaves, 2 teaspoons salt and 1 teaspoon pepper.
- Cover the soup pot and simmer the soup over low heat for 40 minutes.
- Meanwhile, in a heavy skillet over medium high heat, heat the EVOO.
- Add to the skillet the cut-up bacon strips and cook them through, turning them one once, until crisp, about 5 to 6 minutes or so.
- Remove the thyme (discard) and bay leaves (keep) from the soup pot and remove the pot from the stovetop.
- A little at a time, put the soup into a blender, puree it smooth, and pour it batch by batch into a large mixing bowl.
- When all the soup is pureed, taste it for seasoning and re-season if needed.
- Next, pour the soup back into the pot, scraping the bowl to get every last bit, and return the soup pot to the stovetop.
- Add the bay leaves back in, and add the bacon, kale, beans, carrot, bell pepper, and corn.
- Bring the soup to a boil over medium-high heat and reduce heat to low.
- Simmer the soup over low heat and stir periodically until the vegetables are tender, up to 10 to 12 minutes. Remove the pot from heat and remove the bay leaves.
- Taste the soup again and re-season if needed.
- Serve with hot sauce at the table. Ginger is also a great spice to provide.
Chutneys are condiments very often found in South Asian and Indian cuisine, but which have been adopted in America. They are made from many combinations of vegetables, fruits, herbs and spices. The cucumber chutney is cool, as opposed to the hot form of chutneys.
Recipe for Cucumber Chutney
Serves 4 to 6.
- 1 cup low-fat, plain yogurt
- 1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
- 1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger or ground (powdered) ginger
- 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
- 1 cup seeded cucumber, diced
- 2 tablespoons chopped green onion or scallion
- In one bowl, combine the yogurt with the vinegar and ginger.
- In serving bowls, combine 1/4 cup cucumber, 3 tablespoons of the yogurt mixture, and the chopped cilantro for each person.
Where to Find More Recipe Ideas
The thoughtful folks at Whole Foods Markets feel that butternut squash is a power food because of all its health benefits. The staff of Whole Foods offer a number of recipes and menu ideas in print and in cooking workshops to help consumers understand how best to enjoy their squash. Samples of new recipe results are sometimes offered in the store.
Questions & Answers
© 2008 Patty Inglish MS