There seem to be two types of New Year’s food blog posts: with or without irony. Those with irony note the ubiquity of healthful recipes in January and make a few wry comments about the fleeting nature of resolutions before offering up a vegetable-based recipe. The sans-irony ones just go straight for the healthful recipe without apology.
While I assure you that I have a fully developed sense of irony, I must admit that I prefer my January blog posts without it. I love the beginning of a new year, with its promise of a fresh start, and I enjoy the energy and enthusiasm of all those resolution makers. The zinging ping-pong game in my head of big plans and new ideas to start a new year with is a lot of fun. I never get tired of redemption stories. I guess I’m an optimist.
And frankly, I’m still sick of heavy food after the holiday surplus so I’m back to eating less meat and dairy, more vegetables.
I’ve made other butternut squash soups, and I usually favor a cream base. Not to knock cream, but right now my palate craves something a little sharper and cleaner. This soup is warm and filling, as befits a winter soup. But it sits lighter on the tongue and in the tummy. The barley gives it just enough heft to carry you through to your next meal without hunger pangs, but not enough to interfere with your new January workout. The fresh punch of apple, ginger, and mint wakes up the blood just a bit. And who couldn’t use a little wake-up on a cold, dark mid-winter day?
Apple Squash Soup
(adapted from Whole Living Magazine)
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- ½ medium onion, chopped
- 3 garlic cloves, sliced
- 1 inch fresh ginger (about 2 tbsp), peeled and grated
- ½ tsp ground coriander
- 1/8 tsp cinnamon
- 1 large butternut squash
- 2 carrots, peeled and chopped
- 1 tart green apple (such as Granny Smith), peeled and chopped
- 1 cup broth (chicken or vegetable)
- 2 cups water
- salt and pepper
- 1 cup cooked barley
- dried mint leaves, crumbled
Heat olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and garlic and cook until soft– about 10 minutes. Add ginger and spices and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add carrots, apple, 4 cups chopped butternut squash, broth and water. Bring to a boil, cover partially and reduce to a simmer. Season with salt and pepper. Cook until vegetables are soft, about 30 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool slightly. Puree until smooth. Stir in barley. Adjust seasoning if necessary. Garnish with a sprinkle of mint.