Here’s the perfect food pairing on the day after Thanksgiving (when it’s hard to think about food): turkey sandwich made with leftovers accompanied by a hot cup of creamy, pumpkin-butternut soup. This simple, nutritious combo will fortify you after the holiday meal marathon or after a Black Friday shopping marathon.
As a prelude to a couple of tasty and warming pumpkin-butternut soup recipes, here are some squashy nutrition facts:
One cup of cooked pumpkin has 40 calories while a cup of cooked butternut squash has 80 calories because it boasts twice as many natural (not added) sugars.
Although many people give pumpkin puree to their dogs for added fiber, a cup of pumpkin puree only has 2 grams and a cup of cooked butternut squash has 6 grams.
Both gourds are loaded with phytochemical sources of vitamin A, particularly β-carotene. Butternut squash is rich in cryptoxanthin while pumpkin is packed with lutein and zeaxanthin. The latter two compounds are part of the AREDS2 supplement that supports eye health and was formulated based on a study from the Institute of Eye Health, which is part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
Βeta-carotene was removed from AREDS2 because supplementation with Β-carotene has been linked with an increased risk of lung cancer for smokers. When this nutrient is eaten as food, it does not increase cancer likelihood. Many different studies indicate that dietary β-carotene may lower the risk of cancer and for heart disease.
That’s because it has demonstrated prowess as an antioxidant. These dietary chemicals, which include the above phytochemicals – cryptoxanthin, lutein, and zeaxanthin – reduce cellular damage by mopping up free radicals in our bodies. They are absorbed best when they are cooked and eaten with some type of fat. (These are plant sources of vitamin A, one of the fat-soluble vitamins.)
Potassium is another nutrient that is abundant in pumpkin and butternut squash. The AI (adequate intake) level set by the Institutes of Medicine is 4700 mg/day for adults. Cooked pumpkin contains 446 mg per cup and cooked butternut squash has 576 mg.
For most people, increasing potassium intake (from food, not supplements) has health benefits because of the relationship between sodium (salt) and potassium. The two minerals balance each other; greater potassium intake can moderate salt’s effect on your body.
|Calories – 1 cup cooked||80 kcal||40 kcal|
|Carbohydrate||21 g||10 g|
|Protein||1.8 g||1.5 g|
|Fat||0 g||0 g|
|Fiber||6 g||2 g|
|Calcium||80 mg||30 mg|
|Potassium||574 mg||446 mg|
|Β-carotene||9140 mcg||4174 mcg|
|Lutein + Zeaxanthin||—-||2020 mcg|
Nutrition information for this table was taken from Food Data Central, compiled by the Agricultural Research Center of the USDA.
Get a delicious helping of this powerful squashy nutrition with the following pumpkin-butternut soup recipes. The first recipe employs apples or pears to boost the sweetness of the squash or pumpkin (you choose!). Adapted from the indispensable How to Cook Everything by Mark Bittman and accented with the delicate French herb, tarragon (ooh, la, la!), this creamy bisque is worth savoring.
(You can find this cookbook on Amazon by clicking here. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.)
If you are vegan and decide to use pears for this soup, use this link to see a video on how to make almond cream.
The second recipe is time-consuming, but active time is less than half an hour and the resulting soup has a great depth of flavor. This is a long, slow veggie roast; molasses adds an undefinable dark underpinning to the mélange.
I wanted to include a time-saving soup recipe, so I experimented with canned pumpkin puree (not pie filling) but was unable to make a soup that tasted good. (The canned puree imparted a metallic, flat undertone, even after adding extra salt.) If you have a recipe that is quick, tasty and uses canned puree, please share it!
As I was getting ready to post this, I noticed a wonderful collection of butternut squash soups on Eating Well. Pumpkin-spice butternut squash soup? YES!!!
PUMPKIN/BUTTERNUT SQUASH SOUP with FALL FRUIT
- Start to finish: 45 minutes (active time: 20 minutes)
- Servings: 4
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 pound cubed butternut squash or pumpkin (peeled, seeded)
- 1 pound chopped cooking apples OR pears (Granny Smith, Jonathan, McIntosh for the apples; bosc or seckel – any firm variety)
- 1 large onion, chopped
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 4 ½ cups chicken or vegetable stock (NOT mushroom) or water
- ½ cup white wine
- ½ teaspoon dried tarragon (if you are using apples) OR
- ½ teaspoon of ginger plus a pinch of cloves (if you are using pears)
- ½ cup half and half
(Recipe adapted from “How to Cook Everything” by Mark Bittman, 1998.)
- In a large, deep saucepan, melt butter with oil over medium to medium-low heat. Add pumpkin/squash cubes, apples or pears and onion. Stir all vegetables to coat with fat and cook, stirring often, for a few minutes until onion is translucent. Season with salt and pepper.
- Add the stock or water, wine, and dried spices (tarragon OR ginger and cloves). Bring to a boil; then, lower heat and simmer, partially covered, for about 30 minutes, until pumpkin/squash is soft.
- Cool for a few minutes; then, use a hand-held immersion blender to puree, or use a regular blender and puree in batches. (Soup can be cooled and refrigerated at this point up to 3 days until you are ready to serve it.)
- Heat soup thoroughly but do not boil. Add half and half and continue heating, taking care not to bring soup to a boil.
Note: You can easily make this soup vegan by choosing water or vegetable stock and replacing the cream with coconut or almond milk or cream. (Almond milk is especially good if you use pears instead of apples. Click on this link to see a simple way to make almond cream.)
ROASTED PUMPKIN/BUTTERNUT SOUP with SAGE
- Start to finish: 2 ½ hours (active time: 30 minutes)
- Servings: 6 to 8
- 1 small pumpkin (about 2 pounds)
- 1 butternut squash (2 to 2 ½ pounds)
- 1 large or 2 small carrots, peeled and cut into large chunks
- 1 large sweet onion, cut into 6-8 wedges
- 1 head of garlic, cloves separated, papery skin removed
- 1 ½ tablespoons olive oil
- 1 ½ tablespoons of butter
- 3 tablespoons light (not blackstrap) molasses
- Salt and ground black pepper to taste (divided use)
- 5 cups chicken or vegetable stock or water (divided use)
- ½ cup part-skim ricotta cheese
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- 1 tablespoon fresh sage, chopped
- ¼ teaspoon grated fresh nutmeg
- 1-2 tablespoons sherry
- Preheat oven to 350 F.
- Cut pumpkin and squash into quarters and remove seeds (discard or save them to roast for a snack).
- Arrange pumpkin and squash quarters (skin side down), carrot, onion, and garlic cloves on a large roasting pan.
- In the microwave, heat butter and oil together for 10 seconds in a glass measuring cup or microwave-proof bowl. (If the butter is not completely melted, swirl it a little with the olive oil.) Mix molasses into butter and oil. Using a pastry brush, coat squash and pumpkin quarters with the mixture.
- Pour 2 ½ cups of stock or water around vegetables in the pan, taking care not to pour it on top of pumpkin and squash. Season all with a dusting of salt and ground pepper. Cover tightly with extra-wide, heavy-duty aluminum foil and transfer to oven. Roast for 1½ hours, until squash and pumpkin are very tender.
- Take the roasting pan out of the oven and remove the foil cover. When the vegetables are cool enough to handle, scoop flesh from pumpkin and squash using a spatula or large metal spoon and place it in a stockpot or round, deep ovenproof casserole dish. Discard squash and pumpkin skins. Add the remaining vegetables to the pot, and carefully lift the roasting pan to pour the stock and juices into the vegetables.
- Add the remaining 2 ½ cups of liquid (stock or water), ricotta cheese, mustard, sage, and nutmeg to the soup mixture. Simmer for 5 minutes, then remove from heat and cool slightly before pureeing with an immersion blender (or puree in batches in a countertop blender). Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper as desired.
- Stir in sherry and serve, garnished with fresh sage leaves or roasted pumpkin or squash seeds.
Note: To make a vegan version of this soup, use vegetable stock and substitute a nut milk like almond or cashew for the ricotta cheese.