Jan 142015
 

I remember when my best friend Rachel and I went to Chicago and on our last day there we went out to a fancy dinner at a fancy restaurant and did the “chef’s choice” meal. It was like 5 courses of whatever the chef decided to make for us. It was the first time I’d ever tried ahi tuna and it was the first time I’d ever had butternut squash. It was a creamy butternut squash soup in an espresso-sized cup and it was so amazing; I wondered, how had I never had butternut squash soup before??

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I wanted to make it for myself. It sure took me long enough to give it a try…Like 10 years! But finally, I tried. I searched for awhile to find the right recipe. I remembered it being pretty sweet and I found a lot of recipes that claimed it was so sweet it could almost be a dessert. That wasn’t quite what I was looking for. I wanted savory, with a hint of sweet.

I found this recipe:

Butternut Squash Soup With Toasted Cashews

Prep Time: 1 hour

Cook Time: 45 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour, 45 minutes

Yield: 4 servings

Calories per serving: About 169

From: http://whatagirleats.com/butternut-squash-soup-with-toasted-cashews/

Ingredients

  • 1 medium butternut squash, about 6 cups cubed.
  • 3 cups chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 sprig of thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • ? teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • Heavy cream or half and half, thin to desired consistency
  • Kosher salt, and white pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Halve squash and place cut side up in a baking pan with ½" of water. bake uncovered for about 45 minutes.
  3. Squash won't be fully cooked, but slightly tender. Cool.Using a vegetable peeler, peel of outer skin and scrap inside to remove seeds and stringy fibers. Cut into cubes. Should yield about 6 cups. (I think you can actually cheat on this and get pre-cubed squash in the produce section of your market).
  4. In a Dutch oven or large pot heat butter and oil until hot and shimmering. Add shallots and stir, for a minute or two. Add garlic, stir.
  5. Add squash and broth and bring to a boil.
  6. Add thyme and bay leaf, reduced heat and cover.
  7. Simmer on low about 45 minutes until squash is tender. Remove bay leaf and thyme sticks, if there are any.
  8. Puree soup using an immersion blender or upright blender, until smooth.
  9. Return soup to pot, add half and half or cream to thin to desired consistency. Finish with toasted, chopped cashews and a drizzle of cream.
http://www.110pounds.com/?p=10283

It sounded pretty good to me! I knew I’d add a little bit of extra things here and there that I had seen from other recipes I liked. For example, a few recipes called or a pinch of cayenne pepper and I LOVED that idea.

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Other than that I followed the recipe pretty closely, except for the bay leaf (didn’t have one) and I added cayenne. I put it all in my Dutch Oven and let it simmer down. I used my immersion blender (which I LOVE) to puree it up.

I taste-tested the soup after pureeing it and added a pinch more of the cayenne pepper. Once I felt like it was good, I dished it up. I thought it was a little odd that the recipe called it “Butternut Squash with Toasted Cashews” when the cashews were really just a garnish. I read the recipe a few times to make sure I wasn’t skipping a step. Sure, the cashews were nice and added a nice crunchy texture to the soup, but I don’t know that it added anything else beyond that. I originally thought the cashews would be ground up and mixed in.

The texture was super creamy. It was a little too close to baby food/applesauce in consistency and I could have added more milk to it to make it more soupy.

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I served the soup with a green salad (swiss chard, spinach and kale) with Bleu cheese and a raspberry vinaigrette dressing. I also had one large cheesy kaiser roll that I split in half for Michael and I to share.

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Michael and I both liked the soup a lot. It was pretty easy to make. I would add more spice to it next time I think. I got 4 servings out of this recipe and that made it around 150-165 calories a serving. Super low but it was filling and I didn’t feel like I was deprived of food afterwards or hungry in an hour.

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I had some leftovers that I took to work for lunch on my two rest days (there weren’t enough calories in it to eat on a gym day). It was just as good the next day. A little bit of spice, but not too much. It was creamy and the best part— SUPER filling for less than 200 calories!

I will be experimenting more in the future trying to find the perfect squash soup recipe. Do you have a favorite? Please share!

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Nov 172014
 

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With bronchitis!

That’s how I spent my weekend. Not on the plan, at all, and as per usual, poor timing universe. I was feeling kind of rundown all week but it wasn’t until Thursday that I started to really feel sick. Friday I went to the doctor and yep, bronchitis. Sadly, there wasn’t much I could do about it. My doctor said that if I didn’t improve in a few days that it might be bacterial and he’d give me antibiotics. So time will tell.

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I basically spent the entire weekend on the couch or in bed. The one good thing about being sick is that the animals are excellent nursemaids. Both Bella and Fat Kitty snuggled and kept me company while I coughed up a lung.

The beasts also helped me watch TV. :) So I realize that I am like 14 years behind on the times but I started watching Gilmore Girls. It’s streaming on Netflix and with Chromecast I can watch it on the TV in the living room or the bedroom instead of the computer (it’s a cheap option and works well). So many people talk about this show–STILL–and I never watched it when it was on TV so I thought I’d give it a try. And I got hooked. It’s a good show. It’s sometimes silly but really charming.

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The writing is pretty good and funny, I love that Melissa McCarthy is in it (I had no idea she was on this show). I go back and forth loving the relationship between mother and daughter and being annoyed by the codependency but overall I love the show.

Dinner Saturday night was soup and a grilled cheese sandwich. I was craving comfort food and I’d been eating soup for several days. We had some white bread in the freezer from the last time Michael made his famous mac n’ cheese (we rarely have bread in the house and when we do it’s the gluten free stuff from Costco) so I made the sandwich with that and it was AMAZING. Grilled cheese on cheap white bread is the best.

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Saturday night I actually got some okay sleep and wasn’t coughing the entire time like Friday night. But that’s where the good news ended.

Sunday I started to feel worse instead of better–but not with bronchitis symptoms. I ended up spending most of Sunday in bed napping on and off because of vertigo. I have no idea where that came from but I had waves of nausea all day with brief moments of feeling like I was almost okay. It sucked! But at least I wasn’t coughing uncontrollably like I was on Friday. I called the advice nurse and she had no idea. “Eat saltines and drink water.” Um, great. We ruled out pregnancy and ebola. :P But still, no diagnosis for Sunday’s misery. The only thing I could really eat was diet ginger ale, ginger candies and toasted bagels. I would not say it was a fun day. But hey, I got to season 2 of Gilmore Girls…..

I’m really hoping this over with soon because I am getting restless and sick of being in bed or on the couch. I’m also starting to get antsy because I was finally making progress on the scale and as of today I haven’t been to the gym since last Wednesday. I guess the only upside to that is that I’ve had zero appetite since then. But truthfully, I am irritated because I was getting into the swing of things; I was back to running consistently and getting a little bit faster AND I went up in weight on some of the kettlebells I was using at the Warrior Room. All that progress and now I have to go back to where I was before. Dammit!

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