Soup-Er Bowl

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Football isn’t the only thing that is soup-er in a bowl. I like soup anytime, but I know folks that really only want it this time of year when it’s chilly outside. No matter when you eat it, soup can be soup-er nutritious, budget-friendly, and a great way to incorporate more vegetables into your family meals.

If you’re looking for healthful options, when selecting soups or recipes for
soups, it is generally recommended to avoid cream-based soups like bisques and chowders. Frequently, they are made with cream and butter and tend to have a high saturated fat content. For healthy options, it’s best to stick with broth-based soups.

Canned or prepared soups tend to be high in salt or sodium. When
shopping for canned soups, make sure you check the label for the amount of sodium per serving. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend limiting the amount of sodium you eat to less than 2,300 mg per day. You could easily eat this amount in one serving or can of some prepared soups.

This time of year, we can combine seasonal vegetables for flavorful soups. Keeping with this theme, the Eat Smart, Move More, Weigh Less team posted a recipe for Butternut Squash soup in their blog. Butternut squash is a great winter vegetable that can be used in a variety of ways, including this soup-er easy and healthy soup made in a slow cooker. It is as simple as chopping everything up and throwing it in to cook, but if you have the time and want to add a little extra flavor to the soup, you can sauté the onion, garlic, and shallots for a few minutes before putting them into the slow cooker.

Butternut squash tip: winter squash has a hard outer rind that is difficult to cut into and peel. There are a couple of ways to prepare this squash to make this step easier. One way is to cut the squash in half, scoop out the seeds, and roast it in a 350-degree F oven until it starts to get tender. Allow to cool and then peel. This
also caramelizes some of the flavors in the squash. Another way is by using your microwave. Wash the whole squash and punch some holes into it. Microwave on HIGH for 5-8 minutes. The squash will begin to tenderize but won’t be completely cooked. Allow to cool and then peel and chop to use in the recipe.

Slow Cooker Butternut Squash Soup

Makes 6 servings
 1 large butternut squash, peeled and cut into large cubes (about 8 cups)
 1 large onion, chopped
 1 carrot, peeled and chopped
 1 granny smith apple, peeled and chopped
 4 cloves garlic, minced
 1 large shallot bulb, chopped
 4 sprigs thyme (or 1 tsp dried thyme)
 1 sprig sage (or a pinch of dried sage)
 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
 3 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
 ¼ teaspoon salt
 Black pepper, to taste

  1. In a large slow cooker combine butternut squash, onion, carrot, apple,
    garlic, shallot, thyme, and sage. Pour in the vegetable broth, and season
    with salt, pepper, and nutmeg.
  2. Cover and cook on LOW for about 8 hours or on HIGH for about 4 hours,
    until the squash is very tender.
  3. If using fresh herbs, remove sprigs from the mixture after cooking.
  4. Using an immersion blender, blend the soup directly in the slow cooker
    until smooth. If you don’t have an immersion blender, transfer the soup in
    2-3 batches into a traditional blender, being very careful with the hot liquid.
  5. Serve with an optional garnish of additional sprigs of thyme or fresh parsley
    Makes six servings with 160 calories each. The soup is low in fat, contains
    7.5 grams of fiber and 39 grams of carbohydrates.

Portions of this column originally appeared as part of the Holiday Challenge
from NC State University and N.C. Cooperative Extension. Holiday Challenge
is part of the Eat Smart, Move More Weigh Less Program. Additional
healthful soup recipes can be found on their blog.


Cheryle Syracuse wrote this article and more similar ones for the Family and Consumer Sciences Column in the Brunswick Beacon. Syracuse is an FCS team member and can be reached at N.C. Cooperative Extension, Brunswick County Center, 910.253.2610 or by email at cheryle_syracuse@ncsu.edu.