Tart & Spicy Butternut Squash Soup

It’s finally cool enough in California, at least once the sun goes down, to justify getting the stock pot out to make a hearty soup that can serve as dinner with a big salad & crusty bread that can then live on as a couple of workday lunches too!  Great for the wallet AND the waistline!  This soup is so rich, and has such depth of flavor, that it seems like a cheat meal, which is a plus during the non-stop holiday feast season.

Tart & Spicy Butternut Squash Soup

  • 1  –  2 to 2+1/2 lb Butternut Squash (Peeled/Seeded/Chopped into about 1″ Cubes)
  • 1  –  Large Granny Smith Apple (Cut into about 1″ Pieces – seeds/core/stem removed)
  • 3  –  Large Ribs Celery Chopped
  • 3  –  Carrots (Peeled/Chopped into about 1″ Pieces)
  • 1  –  Medium Yellow Onion (Peeled/Chopped into about 1″ Pieces)
  • 4  –  TBLS Butter
  • 1  –  32 oz Container Organic Chicken Stock
  • 1+1/2 Cups Water
  • Freshly Grated Sea Salt (To Taste)
  • Freshly Cracked Pepper (To Taste)
  • Freshly Ground Nutmeg (1/4 tsp)
  • Cinnamon (1/2 to 1 tsp)
  • Cayenne Pepper (Pinch to 1/8th tsp)
  • Chopped Parsley (if desired)

Melt the butter in a medium stockpot and add the onions, carrot and celery.  Sauté over low heat about 10 minutes.  When onions just start to brown, add the squash, apple, salt, pepper, chicken stock and water.  Turn the heat up to medium-high and bring just to a boil.  When bubbles appear at the edges of the pan, reduce heat to low.  Cover pan tightly and simmer soup for 45 minutes until squash is completely softened.

Remove soup from heat and either process soup until smooth using your blender (I use my Vitamix) and returning to the pan after processed or an immersion blender as shown in the video.

Once soup is smooth, add the Nutmeg, Cinnamon and Cayenne.  Adjust spices to taste.

I came across a video that uses the same technique I use to make my soup, with slightly different measurements, and it’s much prettier, so I’ll give the standard #ShoutOut and #HighFive to Simply Recipes for producing a great (and quick) video that I can also use to demonstrate how to assemble my soup!

I’ve already been remiss at keeping up with my blog, so not having to produce a video is a definite bonus! #ThisGirlLovesToEat

Meatless Monday

IMG_4404[1]I love to shop at Trader Joe’s!

Their produce is always fresh, they have great weekly specials and have a really unique, well priced wine and liquor department without having to fight with a giant grocery store atmosphere.

While browsing the aisles today I was inspired to create something quick and healthy for dinner tonight and didn’t want to ruin the workout I had just suffered through by making something that would make me feel bloated and bad about myself.

There were so many bright orange pumpkins displayed around the store that I thought something based on the same fall flavor would be great.  A few more minutes in the produce department and I came up with an idea that didn’t seem very hard at all.

 No Fuss Spinach Butternut Squash Lasagna

  • 1 – 12 oz package Trader Joe’s Cut Butternut Squash (In the fresh produce department)
  • 3/4 – 12 oz package Trader Joe’s Fresh Leaf Spinach
  • 9 – Sheets Trader Joe’s No Boil Lasagna Noodles
  • 1 – 16 oz container Trader Joe’s Part Skim Ricotta Cheese
  • 1 – 16 oz pkg Trader Joe’s Mozzarella Cheese
  • 1/4 – Wedge Trader Joe’s Parmesan Gouda Cheese
  • 1/4 Cup Skim Milk
  • 2 Cloves Garlic finely chopped
  • Fresh Basil (About 6 large leaves)
  • Nutmeg, Oregano, Salt, Pepper and Paprika to taste

Cook the butternut squash, in it’s package with a corner cut off, in the microwave for 6 minutes.

Shred the mozzarella cheese and grate 1/4 to 1/3 of the wedge of the gouda-parmesan wedge into two separate bowls and set aside.

In Food Processor (I used my Vitamix) combine the squash, milk, garlic, nutmeg, salt and 1/2 the container of ricotta cheese.  Process until just smooth.  Do not over process.  If too thick add a little more milk.  Taste and adjust the spices then set aside.

In a medium mixing bowl combine the spinach, the other half container of ricotta cheese, 1/2 of the mozzarella cheese, the chopped garlic, and some salt and pepper.  Stir until the spinach is well coated.

In a lasagna pan (or 9 x 12 Pyrex pan) drizzle some olive oil then layer as follows:

  1.  1/3 of the squash mixture, a single layer of the unboiled lasagna noodles (I used 2 whole and 1 split to fill the layer), then a layer of the spinach mixture;
  2. 1/3 of the squash mixture, a single layer of the no boil lasagna noodles, then a layer of the spinach mixture;
  3. Final 1/3 of the squash mixture, a single layer of the no boil lasagna noodles, then the rest of the spinach mixture;
  4. Top the lasagna with the rest of the mozzarella cheese, the grated parmesan-gouda cheese, and then sprinkle with oregano, paprika and the chopped fresh basil.

Bake in a 375 degree oven for 45 minutes, or until the top is just browned.  Remove from the oven and let stand 5-10 minutes so the cheese sets.  Cut into 8 pieces and serve with a green salad for a healthy meal.  My husband also added some Frank’s Red Hot to spice his up.  It was a great change of pace and there was enough left over for a couple of lunches this week!

If you are on Facebook and are interested in the things I may not devote an entire blog post to, recipes, food facts, nutritional information, photos and other things that make my mouth water, I have a page on Facebook you can visit too:  https://www.facebook.com/ThisGirlLovesHerFood

Tomorrow’s post:  Slow Cooked Red Bean Chicken Chipotle Chili