by Kate Heyhoe
Have you ever thought of squashes as health food? Researchers are discovering the antioxidant benefits of vegetables rich in beta-carotene, the most obvious being carrots. But other orange and yellow colored vegetables are also high in this major source of Vitamin A, and squashes are some of them. Basically, the more colorful the flesh, the higher the concentration of beta carotene, especially among orange, red and yellow vegetables.
Enjoy the hard varieties, like butternut, acorn and dumpling, in winter. Their summer counterparts like crookneck and zucchini taste best in spring and summer, but while still nutritious, carry lower levels of beta carotene.
Below is a delicious way to get a hefty dose of beta carotene, from Chef Jean-Pierre Brehier.
This has to be it—the finest soup I ever created in my life! The ingredients marry beautifully and create an unbelievable taste sensation.
Makes 6 servings
1 or 2 butternut squash (about 4 pounds total)
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup diced onions
1 cup diced leeks
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
2 tablespoons chopped fresh garlic
1 tablespoon chopped fresh ginger
2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1/4 cup bourbon
1/2 cup dry sherry
1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg
5 cups Roasted Chicken Stock
3/4 cup evaporated skim milk
salt & freshly ground black pepper to taste
2 tablespoons cornstarch mixed with 2 tablespoons water
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
With a sharp knife, prick the squash in several places to allow steam to escape while it cooks (otherwise, it could burst). Place the squash in a baking dish lined with foil and roast for about 90 minutes, until the squash is soft when you push on it. Let cool for 30 minutes, so it's easier to handle, then peel, seed, and remove strings. Cut the roasted squash into 1/2-inch pieces, or scoop meat out with a spoon.
In a heavy soup kettle, heat the olive oil and add the onions. Cook until light golden brown and add the leeks and cumin. Cook for 2 minutes and add the garlic and ginger. When the garlic is fragrant, add the maple syrup, soy sauce, bourbon, sherry, and nutmeg. Add the squash and stock and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and cook gently for 15 minutes.
Using an immersion blender (or a regular blender), purse the soup until very smooth. Add the evaporated milk, salt, and pepper. Cook for 2 minutes; do not bring to a boil. Add the cornstarch mixture and serve in soup plates.
If you like, garnish this soup with garlic and Parmesan cheese croutons and a dollop of nonfat sour cream.
Incredible Cuisine with Chef Jean-Pierre Brehier
by Jean-Pierre Brehier
Time-Life Books, 1997
This page originally published as a Global Gourmet Today column in 1998.
Copyright © 2007, Kate Heyhoe. All rights reserved.
This page modified January 2007
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