Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Vegan Butternut Squash Soup With Fresh Figs - Gluten Free, Low Calorie And Low Fat

Big mugs are a convenient way to serve soup

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Happy November!
I can't believe November is here already. This is the month of my FAVORITE holiday - Thanksgiving! So you'll be seeing lots of recipes preparing us for that wonderful feast. It's also time for warming foods as the weather turns cold. What's better than hot soup?

The Last of the Figs
I never know what's available where you live but we are finally seeing some figs here in northern California. I'm going to put some in the freezer so that I can make this soup later in the month. I haven't tried making this with dried figs. I would imagine they would need to be rehydrated for hours and cooked longer than the fresh ones. If anyone gives that a try, please send in a comment. Another thought is to substitute the figs with another sweet fruit like chopped apples or ripe pears if you cannot find them. I hope you have access to some fresh figs because they pair beautifully with the butternut squash.

We had a very cool summer so figs were very late this year

Low in Fat
Most recipes begin with cooking the onions in oil but that's really not necessary. If you are trying to eliminate excess fat in your diet, you can just cook the onions in the broth along with the other ingredients. To get a touch of fat on the palate, I stir in a teaspoon of Earth Balance right before serving. This adds less than a gram of fat to each serving. If you are going totally fat free, you can eliminate the Earth Balance completely.
I'm not a believer in living fat free. It's good to reduce unnecessary fat. Especially if you are trying to loose weight or reverse cardiovascular disease. But dietary fat is important, especially omega-3 fatty acids found in flaxseeds or wild salmon, or other good fats found in avocados, nuts and seeds. Many of our important vitamins such as A, D, E and K are fat soluble and need dietary fat to be best utilized in the body.

Freeze figs when in season so you use them in winter dishes

Add fresh figs in the last 10 minutes of cooking

Blend soup until smooth but don't over process

Stir in a teaspoon of earth balance at the very end

Butternut Squash with Fresh Figs
Vegan, Gluten Free
[serves 4]

5 cups veggie broth
5 cups cubed butternut squash
1 1/2 cups chopped yellow onion
1 packed cup chopped fresh figs
1/2 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
Pinch or two of cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 teaspoon Earth Balance vegan buttery spread (optional)
1 teaspoon fresh thyme, chopped
Freshly ground black pepper to taste

In a 5 quart Dutch oven, add broth, butternut squash and onions and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, partially covered, for 20 minutes or until squash is tender.
Add figs, salt and cayenne and cook another 10 minutes.
Put soup in a blender and process until smooth but don't over process.
Return mixture to the pot. Adjust salt, if needed, and stir in lemon juice.
Stir in 1 teaspoon of Earth balance. (If you want a fat free soup, you can skip this step)
Serve in 4 small bowls or mugs and top with fresh thyme and freshly ground black pepper.

Per serving (with Earth Balance): 161.3 calories, 0.9 g fat, 0.3 g saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 2.0 g protein, 38.2 g carbohydrates, 6.4 g dietary fiber and 861 mg sodium. 

Per serving (without Earth Balance): 153 calories, 0 g fat, 0 g saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 2.0 g protein, 38.2 g carbohydrates, 6.4 g dietary fiber and 851 mg sodium.

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