Butternut Squash and Spinach Soup

26 Jan

As a dietitian, I occasionally receive mailings from food companies. Some are practical, like summaries of the latest research and coupons for new products. Others are less useful. Exhibit A: Quaker® recently mailed out a document highlighting the benefits of consuming orange juice and oatmeal together— a “synergistic” benefit, the materials touted. Yes, vitamin C can enhance iron absorption, but this is hardly a new concept in the nutrition world. Furthermore, is an ‘orange oat smoothie’ the most appealing way to combine these nutrients? I would rather add berries to my oatmeal, thank you very much. Innovation in the food industry can help create more healthful food items, but sometimes food companies try a bit too hard to make basic nutrition sound cutting-edge and sexy.

Recipes are one of the best things to receive in the mail, especially when I get around to actually making them (instead of having them accumulate dust in the binder o’recipe clippings). A few weeks ago, I was sifting through said binder and discovered an old favourite from the people at Becel®. The ingredients are simple (leeks, butternut squash, spinach) while the flavour is anything but.

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Leeks don’t make it into my kitchen very often. But when they do, I realize that I’m missing out by not cooking with them more regularly. Sautéed leeks elevate the most basic of dishes with an umami flavour that packs more punch than you would expect from such a humble member of the Allium family. Just be sure you wash them well— nobody wants sand in their teeth! I used the leftover leeks from this recipe to make a crustless quiche and was surprised by how much flavour they brought to an otherwise simple dish.

Enough about leeks, though. The star of this soup is the butternut squash, whose natural sweetness infuses the broth while simmering. It was so flavourful that I didn’t even need to add salt! The chili flakes balance the sweetness really nicely and generous handfuls of spinach add a pop of colour.

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With the cold weather upon us, a warm bowl of soup really hits the spot. And with the indulgent holiday season now behind us, starting a meal with soup can also help with weight management. What’s not to love?

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Butternut Squash and Spinach Soup
(from Becel® Canada)

1-1/2 tbsp light margarine (or 1 tbsp regular margarine or olive oil)
1 leek (pale green and white part only), washed well and sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 tsp hot chili flakes
1 tsp ground cumin
2 cups butternut squash, peeled, seeded and diced
1 carrot, peeled and diced
4 cups chicken or vegetable broth (low sodium or no-salt-added)
2 cups baby spinach leaves (I use much more!)
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro (optional)
Hot pepper sauce to taste (optional)

  1. In a large pot, heat margarine or oil over medium heat. Add leeks and garlic. Sauté until softened and fragrant, about 3 minutes.
  2. Stir in chili flakes, cumin, squash and carrots, stirring for 1 minute. Add broth; bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer covered for 25 to 30 minutes until vegetables are tender.
  3. Stir in spinach and simmer uncovered for 2 to 3 minutes. Season to taste with hot pepper sauce and garnish with chopped cilantro if desired.

Makes 4 servings. Per serving: 115 kcal, 4 g fat (0.7 g saturated fat), 15 g carbohydrate, 3.5 g fibre, 7 g protein.

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