The Benefits of Ginger: Squash Soup

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<em>Serves 4</em>
<p>It’s no wonder fresh ginger tastes pungent. It contains a family of molecules called gingerols that are structurally related to capsaicin, the compound responsible for the hot bite of chiles.</p>
<p>The epitome of comfort food, creamy squash soup packs all of ginger’s benefits plus healthy beta-carotene.</p>
<p>• 1 medium acorn squash, or about 1 1/2 pounds Hubbard, banana, or other firm, sweet winter squash<br />
• 2 tablespoons butter<br />
• 1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger<br />
• 1 large onion, peeled and chopped<br />
• 2 tablespoons flour<br />
• 3 1/2 cups nonfat milk<br />
• Salt and white pepper to taste</p>
<p>1. Split the squash and discard seeds and pulp. Set the squash in a microwavable container and microwave on high until the pulp is soft, about 10 to 14 minutes. Remove. The squash will be hot, so use potholders and a long-handled spoon to carefully scoop the pulp from the shell. Set the pulp aside (it should measure about 11/2 cups).</p>
<p>2. Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the ginger and cook just until the spice is fragrant. Add the onion and sauté until the vegetable is limp, then sprinkle with flour. Cook until the mixture forms a paste, stirring constantly. Don’t allow it to brown.</p>
<p>3. While stirring the paste, drizzle the milk into the pan, beating out any lumps that form. Continue stirring until the sauce thickens slightly.In a blender or with a hand blender, combine the sauce and the squash; puree until smooth. (If your blender jar is small, you may need to puree the mixture in two batches.)</p>
<p>4. Return the soup to the saucepan. Taste and add salt and pepper as desired. Heat until very hot and serve.</p>
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<em>Cornelia Carlson holds a Ph.D. in biochemistry and is an avid grower and user of herbs. She writes frequently for Herbs for Health and is the author of</em> The Practically Meatless Gourmet<em>, (Berkley, 1996). She writes from her home in Tucson, Arizona.</em>
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