For many individuals, soups offer a convenient and tasty way to boost nutritional content and combat hunger without breaking the bank. Broccoli butternut squash soup combines two nutrient-dense produce items that you can grow in a summer home garden or easily find at most grocery stores throughout the year. In addition, diabetics can benefit from this filling food that boasts moderate carbohydrate content without excessive fat or calories.
You can make broccoli butternut squash soup in either a slow cooker or on the stove top. A slow cooker will permit more freedom throughout the day for the chef and may lend a richer flavor to the end result of the soup. A sharp knife and cutting board are essential items required for cutting through the dense flesh of butternut squash and a potato masher will contribute to a smoother texture at the end of preparation.
Butternut squash is considered a fruit, due to it's seed content. This oddly-shaped squash happens to be exceptionally high in beta carotene and potassium. It also boasts the highest vitamin A content of the squash family. Low in protein and fat, this vitamin-dense fruit contains ample amounts of vitamin C, E and D.
Choose a butternut squash without blemishes that is heavy for it's size. Density and weight are indications of a fruit that has sufficient quantities of water in its cells to enhance flavor and sweetness. Choose a butternut squash that is about the size of a football, or choose two to three smaller squash to ensure you will have enough for the soup base. Because the skin will be peeled off, choosing organic produce in this instance is optional as pesticide residue will not come into contact with the soup.
Broccoli is a vegetable that is known to be rich in vitamins, fiber and minerals. Considered a "super food", the National Cancer Institute says that broccoli may prevent some types of cancer due to high levels of antioxidants and specific phytochemicals. In addition, The March of Dimes encourages women of childbearing age to consume foods high in folic acid, such as broccoli, to prevent some types of neural tube birth defects.
Broccoli has some of the highest levels of vitamin A and C found in any other food. Choose broccoli with a rich green color and ample florets. The stem should seem firm but not woody and the body of the vegetable should seem well hydrated without being mushy. Select a fresh head of broccoli for best results but use frozen broccoli if necessary. Organic produce may be desirable with broccoli as its florets do absorb pesticide residue which cannot be rinsed away easily.
Peel butternut squash and cut into halves. Remove the seeds from the center and either discard them or reserve them to roast lightly in the oven for a nutritionally dense snack. Cube the peeled squash and place into your slow cooker or soup pot. Add enough chicken broth or water to just cover the squash. Add 3 cloves diced garlic, 1/2 stick organic butter or 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil and 1/4 cup thinly sliced green onion or leeks.
In a soup pot, bring liquid to a slow boil and reduce heat to medium low to allow a simmer until squash is soft enough to mash with a potato masher. Add finely chopped broccoli florets in the last 15 minutes of cooking. Add salt and pepper to taste. In a slow cooker, add all ingredients and place dial to low. Cook according to cooker instructions, about five hours. Serve warm with a crusty loaf and a tossed salad. For a smoother soup, use a blender to puree all ingredients together after cooking and reheat gently.