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Winter has most definitely set in again (unless you’re in the southern hemisphere, in which case, I truly envy you right now!). This weekend has been literally freezing in New York, so I decided to keep warm with some butternut squash soup, which is both delicious and easy to make!
Those 3 ingredients you see pictured on the left are pretty much all you need! (In addition, a blender, a food processor, or an immersion blender – which is the best one to use – is also crucial to create that smooth soup texture.)
Ingredients (4 servings)
- 1 chopped onion (I used half of the one in the photo as it was a really large onion)
- 32oz (4 cups) chicken broth
- 1 butternut squash
- 1 tablespoon of coconut oil (or dab of butter)
- salt to taste
- nutmeg and pepper (optional)
- Chop the onion (no need to chop it particularly finely).
- Add 1 tablespoon of coconut oil (or butter) to a large pot (large enough for more than 8 cups of liquid) and add the chopped onions. Sauté the onions on low heat until they turn transparent (5-10minutes).
- While the onions are cooking, chop up the butternut squash. I cut it into 1-inch thick slices and then take off the skin by chopping it off (see photo below). Then I cut the squash into roughly 1-inch cubes.
- When the onions turn transparent (the onions have turned transparent in the photo below), pour in the 32 ounces of chicken broth. Then add the chopped squash and simmer on a medium heat for 1 hour.
- Now comes the hard part. If you have an immersion blender, then stick it into the pot and puree the cooked veggies to create the soup. (Try to keep the end of the stick immersed in the soup to prevent too much splashing.) If you don’t have an immersion blender, then you’ll need to take the softened veggies (squash and onions) out of the pot, without the liquid, and place it into a blender or food processor to puree.
- Once pureed, season with salt. Try a bit of the soup to see how much salt you want. If the butternut squash you used was very ripe, then your soup may be sweeter and therefore you might want less salt. You can also add pepper and nutmeg.
- Cook for another half hour and serve.
Added Bonus: When you were cutting up the butternut squash, you probably noticed all those seeds inside of the squash. If you scoop these out (I use my hands) and wash them clean, you can then cook them for 30min in the oven at 350F on a piece of aluminum foil and eat them whole as a crispy snack.
If you don’t like butternut squash, you can substitute sweet potatoes (or Japanese yams) or pumpkin, or you can mix it up. I’ve made the soup before with a butternut squash, 2 Japanese yams and a can of pumpkin puree (in which case I needed 64oz of chicken broth).
Note: butternut squash is one of the more starchy squashes (1 cup = 18g net carbs), and it isn’t permitted on the Atkins diet until the later stages. It is however permitted on primal and paleo diets, and many low-carbers are ok with eating butternut squash, yams, and pumpkins as long as you don’t go overboard!
The weather has been amazing this weekend, but I know that winter is just around the corner. It therefore seems very apt to start cooking some winter melon. If you’ve never heard of winter melon, then you might know it instead as white gourd (note: fuzzy melon is not the same thing although it can look similar). Still doesn’t sound familiar? Well, it’s a vegetable that can grow as large as a pumpkin but has green colored skin with a white coating, and although it’s called a “melon,” it’s not sweet, and people generally eat it cooked rather than raw.
If you’ve never heard of it, part of the reason is likely because winter melon is typically grown in Asian countries. Consequently, the easiest place to find it here in the U.S. is at your local Asian grocery store. In China, winter melon is used in a variety of recipes, but one of the best and most popular is a soup that just happens to be very locarbolicious! The recipe details are below, but generally the soup consists just of winter melon and pork spare ribs. Believe me (partially because I just ate some soup tonight) – this soup is delicious and offers a nice combination of meat and vegetables as well as some warmth during the winter months! Here’s the simple recipe:
Ingredients (makes 4 servings)
- 2lbs of pork spare ribs chopped up into 2-inch long small ribs (I ask the butcher to cube it for me – it’s much easier and quicker that way). If you don’t have or like pork spare ribs, you can substitute beef ribs or other red meats, but preferably always with bone in the meat. You can buy pork spare ribs in most large Asian supermarkets (or I got it at my local butcher’s shop in New York, Esposito’s Pork Shop, on the corner of 38th and 9th Ave).
- 2-3lbs winter melon chopped into 1 inch cubes (you can usually buy just a slice of winter melon like the slice pictured above) – I bought this in Chinatown.
- 1 tablespoon of coarsely chopped fresh ginger.
- 3 tablespoons of chopped spring onions.
- 1 teaspoon of Sichuan peppercorns (easy to get in Asian supermarkets or online).
- 3 star anise (easy to get in Asian supermarkets or online).
- a spice or tea infuser (a small metal mesh container that allows the spice flavors to disperse into the soup without the spice itself being left in the dish – it’s a hassle picking out the peppercorns and star anise in soup, so I like to put them all into the infuser and just submerge the infuser in the soup).
- 2 tablespoons of salt.
- 1/4 cup of coarsely chopped cilantro (to add at the end).
- Place the 2lbs of pork ribs into a large pot and add cold water until it covers the ribs. Cook the ribs until the water boils, then pour out the water. This just rinses any blood from the meat.
- After pouring out the first load of water, add around 8 cups of fresh cold water into the pot (if you want more soup then add more water). Make sure there’s enough water to cover the ribs and that there’s space in the water for the winter melon too!
- Add the 2 tablespoons of salt, the 3 tablespoons of chopped spring onions, and the 1 tablespoon of coarsely chopped fresh ginger to the pot.
- Place the Sichuan peppercorns and star anise into the infuser and drop the infuser into your pot.
- Cook for an hour on a medium heat with the lid on if you have a lid to the pot (the water should be just boiling/bubbling a little).
- Add the chopped winter melon into the pot and cook for another 45 minutes with the lid on or until the melon looks translucent and is soft and easy to cut with a fork.
- Ready to serve – put 2 or 3 pieces of ribs into a bowl with some of the broth and 6 or 7 pieces of the melon.
I was planning to take a nice photo of the soup all pretty in the bowl, but it was so good that I completely forgot about the photo (this happens a lot actually!). Oh well, I will put up a photo next time I make the soup!