My Date with a Butternut Squash

Right around mid-August, I discovered the wonder of butternut squash soup. Butternut squash does nothing bad to my stomach (always a major plus for a food in my book!) and the soup doesn't include a lot of spices - just a few comfy ones that bring out the flavor of the soup. I started cooking with it using one of those boxed soups you can find at Whole Foods or in the Natural Foods section of Shaws. And I'd add some stuff to it, simmer it all together, and have a meal for the week that's pretty symptom-free. [I currently am incapable of claiming ANYTHING is 100% symptom-free because I've yet to eat anything since this diet began that doesn't set off some sort of symptom in my system...]

Last weekend, in deciding what to have for Sunday's dinner and subsequently left-overs for weekday dinners, I thought to myself, "You know, I could just make my own butternut squash soup - and then add stuff or not depending on how I feel. I figured it wouldn't be all that hard. And why not give it a try? The worst thing that could happen? - eh, ultimate failure.

So, I stopped by the Farmer's Market in Copley Square (across the street from my office!) and picked up a butternut squash, some fresh carrots, and a leek. And I tried it - and it was so much fun! Granted, I certainly didn't realize how hard it is to peel a butternut squash, but I came out on the other side with a peeled squash and all 8 fingers/2 thumbs still in tact. I consider this success. Also, let's be serious, the pureeing part of making butternut squash soup is alone enough to make me do it again. I literally got that stuff everywhere!!! Sure, a little bit of clean-up was necessary after this foray into uncharted butternut squash soup territory, but hey, that's half the fun of cooking or baking anyway!

With my soup that night, I also had my modified version of a Waldorf Chicken Salad. It occurs to me that perhaps it shouldn't even be called that, since it includes different ingredients, but whatever. In my head, I call it Modified Waldorf Chicken Salad, so that's what I'll call it here. [If you take serious issue with my misnaming of this salad, um, okay...]

All in all, it was a delicious and satisfying dinner - something that doesn't always happen due to my lack of ability to use regular spices in my cooking. So, I was very excited about it! Below are the recipes I used to make my dinner that night.

Butternut Squash, Carrot, Leek Soup
[I got this recipe off of King County, WA government site. Thanks to Google for pointing me there, too, because it's delicious and fat free!!! The recipe below is reprinted with my modifications. Here's the original recipe.]

1/2 Tbsp non-dairy butter substitute (I use Earth Balance sticks)
3 cups peeled and diced butternut squash
2 cups carrots, peeled and thinly sliced
1 large leek, white and tender green parts only, thinly sliced
1 32-oz box organic low-sodium chicken stock
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4-1/2 cup water
Salt to taste

1. Heat large, non-stick saucepan to medium-high heat. Melt butter substitute in bottom of pan (just enough to coat the bottom). Add squash, carrots and leeks and cook, uncovered for 7-8 minutes, stirring occasionally.

2. Add broth, nutmeg, and a little salt then bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer, covered for 30 minutes or until vegetables are tender.

3. Place a third of the soup mixture in a food processor, cover and process until smooth. Repeat with remaining soup and then return to saucepan. Bring to boiling, reduce heat then stir in water to desired consistency. Add salt to taste. [Note: be careful at this stage - if the soup is too thick, the boiling will create bubbles that pop butternut squash puree all over the ceiling...]

4. Serve soup with a bit of cinnamon and ginger swirled in for extra flavor.

Modified Waldorf Chicken Salad
[This is my low-to-no fat version, minus foods I can't eat, and plus stuff I can. I don't use salad dressing, but find that the use of fruit gives enough moisture to any salad to get rid of the need for salad dressing. If you want original Waldorf-Chicken Salad, try here or just Google "waldorf chicken salad" - you'll get hundreds of recipes along the same theme.]

Handful salad greens of your choice (I like baby mixed greens from my local farmer's market)
1 boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut in small chunks
Pinch of dried rosemary
4-5 strawberries
10-12 green seedless grapes
4 wheat-free brown rice crackers

1. Heat a non-stick skillet over medium-high heat and sear chicken chunks until the middle of the thickest chunks is no longer pink. I do it stir-fry style - moving the chicken around constantly so they don't burn. Once fully cooked through, sprinkle some dried rosemary leaves over the top for flavor.

2. Put salad greens in a low, flat bowl (like a classic soup bowl). Slice strawberries into 4-5 slivers each and divide evenly over greens. Cut grapes in half and add to top of salad. Add about 6-7 pieces of chicken (depending on how large you made them and how much chicken you want in the salad; the rest can go in the fridge for future use).

3. Finish off by fanning rice crackers on side of salad bowl.

1 comment:

  1. I love butternut squash too! Though they are a pain...

    If you make the soup again, try adding 2 peeled, chopped fuji or gala apples to the puree--it makes it a little bit sweeter :)