Curried Roasted Butternut Squash Soup (with a dash of magic)
At this time of year, all I want to eat is soup. Soup and soft, warm homemade bread. Yes please. In the winter I think I crave the nourishment of a rich, vegetable-based soup and the medicine of all the wintertime spices. Isn’t it interesting how the spices we tend to gravitate towards for autumn and winter meals are actually just the medicine needed to drive off winter colds and flu? I’m not sure if this is medicinal knowledge that was passed down centuries ago and integrated into our culture or if, like many animals, we still possess the ability to self medicate by being drawn to plants and herbs that our bodies need at certain times. I certainly experienced that phenomenon during my pregnancies. Vibrational medicine, such as flower essences, are also a wonderful addition to soups. I like to add a little magic to my cooking by using flower essences. Flower essences work on an energetic level to address the emotional and spiritual needs of the body. One of my favorite essences this season for using in nourishing soups and drinks is Pacific Dogwood Flower Essence. Dogwood is very soothing to the soul. Dogwood heals us from the sometimes harsh energy of the outside world, and seems appropriately correlated to the harsh climate of winter. When you’ve had an especially busy or trying day it can be nice to curl up with a warm cup of tea or bowl of soup and add a little Dogwood essence to relieve stress and bring yourself into resonance with the shifting season. Pacific Dogwood is one of the first trees to bloom when we shift from winter into spring, making it the perfect essence to address shifts in energy and bring us into harmony with that process, whether it is an actual shift in season (for example from summer to fall) or a shifting season of your life.
Here are the spices in this recipe and how they support the body:
Cinnamon: Anti-viral, anti-fungal, anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial, protects heart health, possible anti-cancer properties, anti-diabetes, protects brain function
Cayenne Pepper: Antioxidant, anti-viral, anti-bacterial, anti-inflammatory, anti-fungal, aids in digestion, boosts metabolism, relieves pain, possible anti-cancer properties, improves circulation and supports detox
Black Pepper: Anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, digestive tonic, decreases blood pressure, anti-diarrheal
Lemongrass: Antioxidant, anti-bacterial, reduces pain, reduces fever, detoxes because of diuretic properties, anti-inflammatory, supports the immune system
Cumin: Treats respiratory disorders, boosts the immune system, improves digestion, treats insomnia
Clove: Powerful anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, anti-inflammatory, boosts immune function, lowers blood pressure, supports digestive function
Ginger: Eases pain, boosts the immune system, reduces nausea, promotes healthy blood sugar and supports weight loss, protects brain health, promotes healthy cholesterol levels Garlic: Combats heat disease, possible anti-cancer properties, controls blood pressure, strong anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, and anti-viral properties, anti-diabetic, protects brain health
Cardamom: treats high blood pressure, high blood sugar, diabetes, and digestive issues, anti-bacterial, possible cancer fighting properties, treats asthma
Coriander (seed of the cilantro plant): treats high blood pressure, high blood sugar, diabetes, and digestive issues, anti-bacterial, possible cancer fighting properties, improves cholesterol levels
Nutmeg: Pain reliever, supports digestion, treats insomnia, supports brain health, supports healthy blood pressure and circulation
Cilantro: Anti-bacterial, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, supports digestion, supports blood pressure and cholesterol, promotes healthy sleep, lowers anxiety, anti-diabetic, supports the endocrine system, possible anti-cancer properties
A NOTE ON CONSTITUTION:
In most systems of medicine a person’s individual constitution plays a role in determining what herbs are most suited to them as an individual as well as to the imbalance in their system that is causing illness. For example, in Ayurvedic medicine there are three doshas (Pitta, Vatta, and Kapha). In Western medicine we also talk about a persons “constiution,” which is their personal, physical and psychological makeup. People, plants, and illnesses all have energetic qualities or constitutions and choices in diet and medicine can be made based on these qualities. Most of the spices above, with the exception of coriander, cilantro, and lemongrass, are warming herbs. For most people warming herbs address many of the health concerns in the winter months when we may suffer from an imbalance of cold, damp, and sluggish systems.
Notice the similarities in almost every spice listed above, almost all are digestive tonics, circulatory tonics, anti-viral/fugal/bacterial/microbial, anti-inflammatory, and immune supporting. A couple specifically support healthy endocrine function, healthy sleep, and respiratory illness.
That means this is one powerfully medicinal soup!! Who said medicine has to taste bad?
Combine these potent, pungent, warming herbs with the power of butternut squash, a powerhouse of carotenoids and antioxidants as well as potassium and vitamin B6. Butternut squash protects against heart disease and free-radicals and boosts the immune system.
Ok, at this point my brain is a little tired and my stomach is growling, so let’s get cooking!
The only complicated part about this recipe is blending the spices. Once you make up the spice blends you’ll have them for future use and everything will be much simpler. You can also purchase Thai Curry Spice Blend and Garam Masala from many spice shops. I love the Thai Curry blend from World Spice Merchants in Seattle. If you happen to be able to visit their shop they mix and grind everything fresh right there in the shop!
To make your own Thai Curry Spice Blend:
1⁄2 tablespoon ground cumin
1/2 tablespoon ground dried Thai red chili pepper or Red Pepper Flakes (to taste)
1 tablespoon sea salt
1 tablespoon fresh ground white or black pepper
2 tablespoons dried lemongrass
2 tablespoons garlic powder
2 tablespoons ground ginger
To make your own Garam Masala:
1⁄4 cup ground cloves
1⁄4 cup black pepper
3 1⁄2tablespoons ground cardamom
2 1⁄2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 1⁄2 teaspoons ground coriander
1⁄2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
Store in spice jars or 1/2 pint mason jars until needed!
Whew! So now that we have the spice bit out of the way, here comes the easy part!
1 large or 2 small butternut squash (peeled, cubed, seeds reserved)
6 cups chicken broth
1/2 cup cultured, probiotic sour cream
2-3 Tbsp Thai Curry Spice Blend
1/2 Tbsp Garam Masala
Fresh cilantro for garnish
Flower Essence of choice (optional)
Skin one large or two small butternut squash with a vegetable peeler.
Cut in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds
Reserve the seeds!!!!! Do not throw these babies away! They are better than pumpkin seeds!
Chop squash into roughly 1” chunks
Place on a parchment-lined baking sheet and roast at 400 for about 30 minutes or until soft when pierced with a fork and just starting to caramelize a bit
Rinse and dry squash seeds, spread on a separate baking sheet with a drizzle of oil and a sprinkle of salt and add to the oven to roast during the last 10-15 minutes
Bring 6 cups chicken stock to a simmer and add roast squash
Add 2-3 tablespoons Thai Curry Spice Blend and 1/2 tablespoon garam masala
Add 1/2 cup cultured probiotic sour cream
Blend until smooth with a hand blender
If adding flower essences, add a few drops per serving now and stir to combine
Mix 1/4 cup sour cream with 2 tbsp milk until it is smooth and the consistency of heavy cream (this is an optional step that so that you can garnish the soup with that nice little swirl of sour cream on top!)
Ladle into bowls and garnish with roast squash seeds, julienned cilantro, and a swirl of sour cream.