I had one last butternut squash in the kitchen waiting to be used and this soup had been calling my name for a while. The flavor is warm and inviting, perfect for a cold wintry day, and the soup is easy to put together and easy on the budget using widely available ingredients. The recipe comes from one of my favorite everyday cookbooks, The Essential EatingWell Cookbook, which is full of healthy and mostly easy-to-prepare meals.
The original recipe calls for red bell pepper, but since peppers aren’t in season and are horribly expensive right now, I used mushrooms instead. If you have any peppers left from the summer garden in your freezer, those would work well, too.
[Updated October 3, 2010.]
- 1 tablespoon sweet paprika
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
- 16 ounces (454 g) boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into 1/2-inch strips
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 onions, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/2 teaspoon saffron threads, crushed (optional)
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 6 cups (~1.4 liters) homemade chicken stock or reduced-sodium broth
- 6 ounces (~170 g) peeled diced butternut squash
- 4 ounces (113 g) white mushrooms, diced
- 2 carrots, grated
- 2 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh mint (or parsley)
- Combine the paprika, cumin, and coriander. Place cut chicken strips in the medium bowl and toss with 1 tablespoon of the spice mixture.
- Heat the olive oil in the pot over medium heat. Add the chicken and cook until browned, about 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer to a plate.
- Add the onions and garlic to the pot and cook, stirring, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the saffron, cayenne, cinnamon stick, and the rest of the spice mixture. Cook, stirring, for 1 minute.
- Add the broth, squash, and the chicken. Cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer, uncovered, for 10 minutes.
- Add the mushrooms and carrot and simmer until the vegetables are tender and the chicken is cooked through, about 5 minutes. Discard the cinnamon stick. Stir in the lemon juice. Ladle the soup into bowl and garnish with the mint.
large pot with lid