October is the most beautiful month of the year. Growing up on the east coast, I always looked forward to the leaves changing to deep hues of red, orange and yellow and the air beginning to cool enough to wear scarves and sweaters but not so cold that you didn’t want to go outside. Autumn also happens to be the time of year I most look forward to cooking.
As soon as the weather cools I begin craving hearty winter squash soups and stews or Indian curries layered with warming spices. Just add a crusty slice of fresh bread dipped in olive oil, a leafy green salad and a glass of earthy red wine and I’m in heaven.
What I love about winter squash, besides being incredibly delicious and perfect in soup, is that they also happen to be some of the most nutrient dense vegetables available. They contain high levels of Vitamins A, C and many B Vitamins along with lots of potassium and fiber. Winter squash also contain beta-carotene, which is a carotenoid that gives them their deep orange hues, and is responsible for making them highly antioxidant.
“The doctor of the future will no longer treat the human frame with drugs, but rather will cure and prevent disease with nutrition.” ~Thomas Edison
And to make these nutritional powerhouses even more delicious and health promoting, I like to cook them with some or all of these medicinal spices:
CHUNKY WINTER SQUASH SOUP WITH KALE
- 2 tablespoons coconut oil
- 1 medium yellow onion, diced
- ½ teaspoon sea salt + ¼ teaspoon sea salt
- 1 medium carrot or parsnip, finely diced
- 2 stalks celery, finely diced
- 2 teaspoons grated ginger
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- ¼ teaspoon each of cardamom & nutmeg
- ½ teaspoon each of turmeric & cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 2 teaspoons coriander
- 1 bay leaf
- 1/8 teaspoon cayenne, optional
- 1 small fennel bulb, trimmed, core removed and cut into a small dice
- 1 medium sweet potato or yam, peeled and cut into a small dice
- *2 cups kabocha squash, peeled, seeded and cut into a small dice
- *2 cups butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into a small dice
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 15-ounce can full-fat coconut milk
- 4 cups vegetable broth
- Add 5 or 6 leaves of thinly slice kale just before serving
- Squeeze in fresh juice from ½ a lemon before serving
*Save any leftover squash by cutting into ½ inch dice, rubbing with coconut or olive oil, sprinkle with salt & pepper then roast at 400 degrees for about 35 minutes mixing halfway through cooking time. You can add these to a quinoa/kale salad with a lemon vinaigrette, French lentils with herbs and a balsamic vinaigrette topped with goat’s milk feta, or simply have as a side dish to your main meal.
- Heat the oil in a large pot and add onion with ½ teaspoon of sea salt. Cook on medium heat until the onions become soft and translucent, about 7 to 10 minutes.
- Add the carrots, celery, ginger, garlic and spices and cook on medium high heat for about 3 minutes. Splash a little water or broth to keep spices from sticking and burning.
- Add the chopped sweet potato or yam, fennel, butternut squash, kabocha squash, additional ¼ teaspoon sea salt and pepper. . Splash a little more water or broth to keep spices from sticking and burning. Cook for 5 minutes.
- Add the broth and coconut milk and bring to a boil.
- Turn the heat down to low and simmer for about 30 minutes or until the vegetables are cooked and tender.
- Add kale and lemon juice, stir then let wilt for 5 minutes and serve immediately.
What autumn goodness will you be cooking up this season? Share your recipes and favorite autumn eats in the conversation box below!
Main photo by Brooke Cagle
Other photos by Briana Ryan