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Low-Fat Butternut Squash Soup

Smooth as velvet, this soup, right down to its dry-sautéed mushroom garnish, shows how good low-fat cooking can be. The addition of a sweet apple and orange juice concentrate heightens the flavorful, deep orange-yellow flesh of the butternut squash. The soup is packed with vitamins and phytochemicals, and is perfect for everyone, including vegetarians.

Ingredients:

  • 1 butternut squash, about 1 1/4 lb. 
  • 1 Fuji apple, peeled, cored and diced 
  • 2 shallots, chopped 
  • 2 cups low-sodium, fat-free vegetable broth  
  • 1/2 tsp. dried oregano 
  • Pinch of cayenne pepper 
  • 2 Tbs. thawed, frozen orange juice concentrate 
  • 1/4 tsp. kosher salt, or more, to taste  
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste 
  • 2 large portobello mushrooms, stemmed, brushed clean and cut into 1-inch cubes 

Directions:

Cut the squash in half. Remove and discard the seeds, then peel and dice the flesh. In a Dutch oven or large, heavy saucepan over medium-high heat, combine the squash, apple, shallots, broth, oregano and cayenne. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to medium-low, cover and simmer until the vegetables are very soft, 25 to 30 minutes. Remove from the heat, uncover and let the soup stand for about 15 minutes.

Using an immersion blender, puree the soup in the pan until it is very smooth, 3 to 4 minutes. Alternatively, working in batches, carefully puree in a standing blender until smooth, then return to the pan. Stir in the orange juice concentrate and the salt. Season with black pepper.

Heat a large fry pan over medium-high heat. (Do not use a pan with a nonstick coating.) When it is hot, add the mushrooms to the dry pan and sauté, tossing and stirring them with a wooden spoon. When the mushrooms release their liquid, after about 3 minutes, continue to cook and stir until they are dry and well browned, 4 to 5 minutes. Transfer to a plate.

Reheat the soup over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Divide it among warmed wide, shallow bowls and spoon one-fourth of the mushrooms into the center of each bowl. Serve immediately. Serves 4.

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma, Essentials of Healthful Cooking, by Mary Abbott Hess, Dana Jacobi & Marie Simmons (Oxmoor House, 2003).