Soup is sort of like a salad. Only warm. You get veggies, healthy oils, and lovely herbs and spices. You might add fruit (roasted pumpkin & apple) or top off your bowl with nuts or calcium rich dairy (toasted walnuts & blue cheese or grilled pecans & a dollop of Greek yogourt). If you're a power food fanatic you could have special combos like garlic tomato soup topped with avocado slices and nasturtium flowers.
I'm a huge salad fan. I have a large bowl of some kind of salad almost every day. But soup just might be even better than salad. Why? Because it keeps in the fridge. So if you are crazy busy, exhausted, or just....yep it's sometimes good to admit it...plain old lazy, you can warm up some soup and have a tasty nutritious meal in a matter of minutes.
The other great thing about soup is that it seems to taste better with age. It's tough to beat a simmering pot of something on the stove, spreading lovely smells to every corner of the house. That's what I call free aromatherapy.
Aim for variety in your soups. Go on line and get some new recipes or buy a soup cookbook. Ditch the cookie trade and host a soup swap with friends or the gang at the office. Have some ground rules before you trade soups - whole foods, nothing processed or chemical, local and organic if you can. Agree to shop at the farmer's market. Aim to use power foods (see The Fridge List) . Come to swap night with a list of all the ingredients in your soup and containers to take home your trades.
Butternut Squash Soup packs a lot of nutrients. You can change the flavouring. I like lots of thyme, pepper and leeks for a real savoury flavour. But you can easily change these for something more tropical - coconut milk, lime juice, and nutmeg. Or curried - grated ginger root, cumin, hot peppers & curry powder.
Serve this soup as a meal on its own or buddied with a veggie platter and a selection of cheeses and olives.
Leek & Roasted Butternut Squash Soup
1 large butternut squash
2 tbsp oil (try walnut oil)
4 leeks, white part only sliced and rinsed
1 tbsp butter
Generous handfuls of fresh thyme, stripped from the stalks
2 bay leaves
4 cups chicken or vegetable stock
Salt to taste
Cut the squash in half lengthwise & brush the cut side with oil. Place cut side down on a pizza stone or foil covered baking sheet. Bake at 400 degrees until a fork pierces the squash easily (about 45 minutes). Allow to cool then discard seeds from the centre and scoop out the squash into a bowl.
Warm remaining oil in a large soup pot on medium heat and add leeks, tossing to coat. Cover with lid stirring occasionally until leeks begin to soften and go golden (about 6-7 minutes). Add butter, pepper bay leaves, and thyme stirring until the thyme is fragrant (a couple of minutes). Add squash and stir. Add stock and stir. Add salt to taste. Simmer on low-medium heat for a minimum of 45 minutes, stirring occasionally. If you find that the soup is too thick add water.
Once the soup is cooked remove the bay leaves and use a wand mixer to blend the soup in the pot or pour into a food processor and blend in batches. I let the soup cool before blending and then reheat it at meal time.