Yesterday's thick fog that veiled my house has been washed away by today's rain. I find myself craving a hearty soup. There must be a beneficial biological instinct that makes you crave warm, comforting food full of goodness when the weather turns. We hear so much about controlling our food cravings relating to over-eating, stress eating, food addiction, etc... But aren't our bodies & brains designed to crave what we need, too? I've been searching for research to support that theory, but I haven't been able to weed through all of the negative analysis to find support for positive cravings. But I'd bet on them. If we can strip away much of the junk in our diet, our bodies will tell us what we need. And for me on this wet day, that's a vegetable soup.
I love butternut squash in soup - it adds heft and creaminess without adding actual cream. It also adds fibre, Vitamin B6 (good for your immune system!), Vitamin C (again!), potassium (vital for all muscles and nervous system - especially important as you age - me again!), beta-carotene (can help protect against age-related macular degeneration). Hmmm... yes, I think my craving was quite apt.
Although I love the curry spice and coconut milk in Kitchen Sink Soup and make it somewhat regularly, today I have some aromatic sage in the kitchen. I love the pairing of sage and butternut squash, so I've gone in a different direction with this soup, adding tomatoes and topping with some toasted orange flavoured walnuts. Mmm mmm... that is good!
BUTTERNUT SQUASH & SAGE SOUP
1 large butternut squash - peeled and chopped
4 cloves garlic - peeled, not chopped
10 sage leaves
pinch sea salt
1/2 tablespoon olive oil +
1/2 tablespoon olive oil
1 large shallot, finely chopped
1 medium red pepper (or 3/4 large), diced
1 can chopped tomatoes
1/4 teaspoon mustard seed
1/8 teaspoon red chili flakes
3 cups water
1/4 cup walnuts
Sprinkle 1/2 tablespoon olive oil in a large baking dish/tray, and toss in chopped butternut squash, 4 garlic cloves and the 10 or so sage leaves.
Roast in oven (at 220ºC - 210ºC fan oven - 425ºF) for about 15 minutes, until squash has softened.
Meanwhile, in a large soup pot, add the remaining 1/2 tablespoon olive oil and sauté the shallot and red pepper over a medium heat for approximately 10 minutes. Stir frequently to keep vegetables from burning.
When squash is ready, add the contents of that tray to the soup pot. Bring back to simmering and allow to cook for 10 minutes more.
Blend the soup. (Either transfer to a standing blender and then return the pot or use an immersion blender.
Taste. If it's too acidic, sprinkle 1/4 teaspoon sugar & stir through.
Prepare walnuts: Chop walnuts and squeeze juice from 1/2 orange over. Put into a hot pan and toast for about 3 minutes - be sure to stir so the juice doesn't burn.
Serve soup topped with toasted orange walnuts and if you like, swirl through a dollop of low-fat natural yogurt.