Creativity in the Kitchen—Nourishing Winter Soups

It’s raining in San Diego … an unusual and very welcome event … one of those days when a steaming hot bowl of homemade soup sounds just right. Checking my fridge for ingredients, I found some baked winter squash (that really needed to be used), along with a couple of cups of organic chicken broth, and some extra firm tofu.

Humm … this could be warmed up and blended in my VitaMix to make a creamy soup without the cream . . . promising. The squash is loaded with protective carotenoids and fiber, and the tofu adds protein and some calcium (as long as the label indicates it’s been made with calcium salts).

Now thinking this soup might taste a bit bland, I searched the fridge again and found an opened jar of green chile salsa (Tomatilla Salsa from Trader Joe’s) and some fresh cilantro. Good . . . more flavors (as Emeril might say “to take it up a notch”), along with protective nutrients. I threw these into the simmering saucepan.

Then thinking it would be nice to add some healthy fat for richness, I added a couple of tablespoons of raw pumpkin seeds (pepitas), which I keep frozen to protect their freshness. Pumpkin seeds are very rich in zinc (needed for protein metabolism, including tissue building and repair).

After a few minutes of simmering, I poured the still chunky soup into my VitaMix and blended until the soup was creamy and smooth in texture. Since the soup was still very hot and I was hungry, I stirred some frozen corn kernels into my soup bowl. The heat of the soup softens the corn, cools the soup, and also adds a nice chewy texture to this creamy soup. And if I hadn’t used all my leftover cilantro in the soup, a little bit of green sprinkled on the top of each serving would have added a nice color contrast.

All of this took about 10 minutes, used up a number of ingredients that needed to be used or tossed, and most of all left me feeling both nurtured and nourished. You can find the recipe for Creamy Squash Soup HERE with approximate quantities of each ingredient that I used, but please remember that these “build-your-own” soups are flexible depending on what great ingredients your fridge might hold. For example, I might have used some leftover baked chicken instead of the tofu or if I didn’t have baked winter squash, I might have used canned pumpkin. Experiment and enjoy!

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