Normally, part of my morning routine is getting a workout in. But not today!
Now I know thousands of people already, and my family was always easy to meet. So multiply that figure exponentially and you get some idea of my life! One of the folks I knew was a medical professional who was always good for some advice or gourmand conversation. Their family was Italian and we had epic food and wine talks. Well, one day I asked what was the best method for keeping lean during times where one is less active and about. I just knew it would be a dynamite systematic approach to fitness based on his years of experience.
Well, then. I waited, dumbstruck and paying rapt attention with laser eyes for the rest of it, and he waited for me to get the joke. I did, and started laughing.
So some days, when the the mercury is plunging outside and the notion of emerging sweaty from a gym would be utter insanity, I think of this. I do my dead of winter fitness routine inside - if I feel like it - (straight-up honesty!) and yes, I eat less. They didn’t give me this recipe, and it is not ‘an Italian dish’. I thought of that good advice while making it.
Butternut squash (aka Curcurbita moschata, for example: Cushaw or Winter Crookneck, and similar varieties C. maxima or warm weather C. pepo) are quite indigenous to the Americas: North, Central, and Mexico. The name squash came from the Massachusetts tribal name for it, as-ku-ta-squash. (Hyphens added for pronunciation.)
As a gourmet-trained chef, people think all of our food is complicated. It can be, sometimes. That’s why we go to technical school or receive technical training for years! But the best, most flavorful food has high quality ingredients, harvested at their peak, and is coaxed into something sublime. This can be something as simple as soup. Because great food is made with love.
Here is a recipe for a simple dish to warm your bones and fill your heart.
It is naturally gluten-free, as is all of my food.
You can certainly use pre-made squash puree/soup if you want. But these instructions will be for fresh butternut, already cut into medium chunks.
Butternut Squash and Roasted Pepper Soup ~ makes up to 4 servings
2 cups of water
1 lg butternut squash, chunked
2 oz celery, medium dice
1oz onion, medium dice
2 oz roasted red pepper, medium dice
1 cup blended coconut milk (or any kind of milk you like - this one is lighter)
salt and pepper, to taste
In a medium-sized pot for the squash, heat 2 cups of water until simmering.
I large butternut (winter) squash peeled and medium chunked (section it and use an actual knife, or use a heavy duty safety peeler). About 2-3 lbs of squash
Light salt and pepper.
Let it cook, covered, until the squash is completely cooked through and soft when prodded with a spoon, about 15-20 minutes. You’ll stir and check it in between.
While that is cooking, medium dice:
2 oz celery or 2-3 stalks of strung celery
1 oz of onion about 1/4 of an onion (if desired)
2 oz or about 1/2 roasted red pepper - (roast and peel or use prepared)
In a medium skillet or pan, add 2 Tb of oil - canola or olive oil
Sweat these together on low heat without browning - adding onion and celery first, then roasted red pepper - which will already be soft. Make sure they are cooked through. Veggies that are not soft do not puree well and you will lose that delicious, creamy consistency.
Going back to the pumpkin, add the 1 cup of coconut milk at the last 5-8 minutes of cooking, and continue to cook until all is simmered, soft, and heated completely through.
2-3 (a few) sprigs of both fresh parsley and chives
1 tsp cumin and ginger
Check salt and pepper again, adjust
Puree all while still hot in a vented blender, until smooth and light. (Keep a towel handy for your mits!)
Chef Hadassah Patterson