September brings change to the air – the summer’s end, the beginning of school and the return of seasonal fruits and vegetables. In the fall we welcome the autumnal flavors of pears and apples, the transition from summer to winter squash and the appeal of warm comfort foods. This week’s Acorn Squash and Apple Soup makes the most of fall’s bountiful harvest. Served with a green salad and a healthy slice of toasted whole grain bread, this soup makes the perfect light dinner for a brisk September evening.
Winter squash – which include acorn, butternut and spaghetti varieties – are harvested in early fall. Like their cousin summer squash, they are a healthful and low-calorie addition to any meal. But with a slightly higher carbohydrate content, winter squash pack a bigger fiber punch than summer squash. That’s good news for those seeking to lose weight, as increasing dietary fiber may help curb hunger by making you feel fuller longer. In addition, research shows that high fiber diets are associated with a lower risk of both heart disease and cancer.
The leeks and onions featured in this recipe come from the allium family of vegetables, which also includes garlic. These foods contain sulfur compounds that, according to the American Institute for Cancer Research, may play a role in decreasing stomach cancer risk. Moreover, onions boast antioxidants with important anti-inflammatory properties that help fight many chronic diseases.
In addition, September also kicks off apple season. Although traditionally used in baked goods, apples add a touch of natural sweetness to any dish. Cooked and pureed as in this soup, apples make a healthy, low-calorie thickening agent – a better choice than the flour and butter thickeners most frequently used by chefs.
Toppings like the chopped fresh mint used here add a touch of color and some intense flavor. For extra crunch, sprinkle a few chopped almonds or walnuts on top of each bowl just before serving.
Acorn Squash and Apple Soup - Makes 5 servings.
1 medium acorn squash
1 Tbsp. canola oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 leek (white part only) rinsed well and chopped
1 tart apple (such as Granny Smith), peeled, cored and chopped
3 cups fat-free, reduced sodium chicken broth
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
3 Tbsp. minced fresh mint leaves, as garnish
Milk or additional broth to thin soup (optional)
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Cut acorn squash in half length-wise, remove seeds and pulp. Set on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake until the flesh is tender when pierced, roughly 45 to 90 minutes (depending on size). Remove squash from oven and allow to cool.
While the squash is cooling, in a large, heavy pan heat the canola oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion and leek and sauté for about 4 minutes, until the onion is translucent. Add the apple and cook over medium heat for 1 minute.
Scrape out the squash pulp and combine with the apple mixture. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover and cook for 5 minutes, stirring often. Add the broth to the pan, cover and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for about 30 minutes. Remove the pan from heat and set the soup aside to cool slightly.
In a blender or food processor, puree the soup in batches until smooth. Return soup to pan and heat just before serving. Add milk or additional broth to thin soup, as desired. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Garnish each serving with mint and serve.
Per serving: 103 calories, 3 g total fat (<1 g saturated fat), 18 g carbohydrate, 3 g protein, 3 g dietary fiber, 330 mg sodium.
The American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) offers a Nutrition Hotline online at www.aicr.org or via phone 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. ET, MondayFriday, at 1-800-843-8114. This free service allows you to ask questions about diet, nutrition and cancer. A registered dietitian will respond to your email or call, usually within 3 business days. AICR is the only major cancer charity focusing exclusively on how the risk of cancer is reduced by healthy food and nutrition, physical activity and weight management. The Institute’s education programs help millions of Americans lower their cancer risk. AICR also supports innovative research in cancer prevention and treatment at universities, hospitals and research centers across the U.S. Over $82 million in funding has been provided. AICR is a member of the World Cancer Research Fund International.
Article Posted: September 3, 2007