Wednesday, January 9, 2013

butternut squash and cider soup.

I leave for Miami in a month, which means my diet should have started about 3 weeks ago but 3 weeks ago was Christmas and New Years and anniversary celebrations and a constant stream of cookies and cake and pork buns.  It seemed to me that dieting during the holiday season was the worlds worst idea, I would fail miserably and would scold myself every time I did fail miserably (I have no self control around the parade of sweets that seems to show up with abandon in December.)  So here I am, now a month before I go away and its time to get a little more serious about things (just a little, because I’m not much of a dieter – I adhere by the rules of moderation eating which has served me well thus far).  My, when I decide to eat healthier should probably eat less cookies food of choice is soup.  It’s filling and warm and you can literally put anything and everything into a pot and make it taste good.  Currently my favorite soup involves a rich base of pureed butternut squash accompanied by a plethora of spices and a generous amount of apple cider. It tastes creamy and indulgent which is exactly how health food should taste.   

Butternut Squash and Cider Soup
Adapted from “The Essential New York Times Cook Book” by Amanda Hesser
Serves 4
1 shallot thinly sliced
1 clove garlic, minced
¾ cup vegetable broth or water
3 cups peeled, seeded, and cubed butternut squash
¾ cup apple cider
½ teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon cayenne
¼ - ½  teaspoon cayenne
¼ cup fat-free or low fat Greek yogurt
1 tablespoon lemon juice
½ teaspoon salt, or more to taste
Cracked black pepper
For Garnish (optional) – Dusting of cumin, a dollop of yogurt, squeeze of lime, minced cilantro.
In a medium saucepan over low heat, add shallot, garlic and 1/4 cup vegetable broth/water. Cook until the shallot and garlic are softened, being careful not to burn them, 3-5 minutes. Add the squash and the remaining vegetable broth/water and bring to a boil. Add cinnamon, cumin, and cayenne. Reduce the heat, cover, and simmer until the squash is soft, about 20 minutes.
With a potato masher, press the squash down until semi-pureed, then add the cider and with an immersion blender puree the soup until smooth (or use a Cusinart). Add the yogurt and the salt, and continue to puree. If soup looks too thick, you can think it down with more broth/water, if you have any on hand, or with more cider. Continue to taste. Add 1 tablespoon lemon juice and stir.
Garnish with cumin, yogurt, a squeeze of lime, chopped cilantro, and cracked black pepper (if you are using them). 

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