Thursday, December 18, 2008

Winter Squash Soup with Ginger, Turmeric, Meyer Lemon, Sage and Crimini Mushrooms

Okay. That's a long title, I admit. But I wanted to catch your attention because this soup is everything you could possibly want and need in the depths of winter. It is made completely with ingredients from the top 100 of the World's Healthiest Foods list. It's packed with anti-oxidents, vitamins A and C, Omega 3s and B vitamins. Anti-inflammatory and cancer fighting properties abound. It's low in fat and sodium. In short, it's a heart warming, good for what ails you bowl of goodness.

I put this together, from the two whole squashes sitting on my counter waiting to be peeled and cut to this hot steamy bowl, in just under two hours. Quick and easy enough for a weeknight meal.
Healthy ingredient number one: Meyer lemons. Use all the juice, it brightens the soup and adds a healthy dose of vitamin C. And remember to save the zest to sprinkle over hot steamed green beans or to add to your lemon cake. You will be making lemon cake, won't you?
Healthy ingredients numbers two and three: Fresh ginger and fresh turmeric (forgive the photo). They warm you up on a cold day empowering you with their healthy goodness.
Garnish with sautéed crimini mushrooms. Generously. Don't forget the onions and garlic. A winter soup just wouldn't be without them.
And, of course, the star of the evening, winter squash. You can use Red Kuri, Red Kabocha, Cinderella or other bright orange winter squash. They have dense, dry meat and purée to a velvety smoothness. Plus the good-for-you stuff in these babies will boost your immune system and get you through the winter.

There's one more healthy ingredient in this soup that deserves a sentence all its own: sage. An anti-oxident, anti-inflammatory brain booster, there's a reason that sage is most often used in cold weather recipes. After you've visited all the links and read about the health properties of these ingredients, do come back and make some for yourself, and your loved ones.

Winter Squash Soup with Ginger, Turmeric, Meyer Lemon, Sage and Crimini Mushrooms
Christine's original recipe
Print recipe
2 medium red Kuri squash, peeled, seeded and cut into small chunks
1 medium onion, peeled and roughly chopped
4 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
7 cups water, or just enough to barely cover the squash
1 tablespoon fresh turmeric, peeled and diced
2 tablespoons fresh ginger, peeled and diced
1 tablespoon dried sage, crushed
juice of 1 Meyer lemon (1/4 to 1/3 cup if they're as big as mine)
8-10 crimini or shiitake mushrooms, thickly sliced, sauteed in olive oil
Peel, seed and cut the squash. See this link for instructions. Set aside.
Heat about 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large stockpot over medium-high heat then add the chopped onions and garlic. Saute until softened and slightly golden. Don't allow the garlic to burn.
Add the squash, turmeric, ginger, sage and water, and simmer until the squash is tender, about 30 minutes.
Off heat, using your immersion blender (What? You still don't have one? Well then use a food processor), purée the soup until it's all velvety smooth and no pieces are left. The soup will thicken as you do this.
Still off heat, add the Meyer lemon juice until it all tastes just right.
Ladle into bowls and garnish with slices of sauteed mushrooms. Listen to those YUMS!
Cook's Notes:
I opted to season this soup with the lemon juice, letting the heat of the ginger and turmeric shine and avoiding the addition of salt entirely. If you are going to salt the soup, I suggest passing a good sea salt such as Sel de Guérande or Maldon around the table so folks can add their own if they wish.

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