Autumn is an inspiring time for me. I love the warm colours and comforting sweetness of vegetables like winter squash.
With Halloween approaching, the shops are full of pumpkins. The type of pumpkins used for carving jack-o'-lanterns are generally not very tasty, so don't try to use them in cooking. Here's one I carved last year.
Instead, you can buy other multi-coloured varieties of winter squash, such as Blue Hubbard, Acorn, Kabocha, Delicata and Spaghetti squash, each with their own unique texture and flavour. I particularly like the orange ones that look like mini pumpkins (var. Kabocha).
Winter squash, like other richly coloured vegetables, are excellent sources of carotenes – the darker the colour, the higher the concentration. They're also a very good source of vitamins C and B1, folic acid, vitamin B5, potassium and dietary fibre; and a good source of vitamins B3 and B6.
Like other carotene-rich vegetables, winter squash have been shown to have a protective effect against many cancers, including lung cancer. Diets rich in carotenes also appear to protect against type 2 diabetes. Pumpkin seeds have been shown to be helpful in reducing symptoms of benign prostatic hyperplasia.
In this recipe, I combined sweet orange winter squash, with red and yellow bell peppers, tomatoes, potato, onions and smoked paprika to create a colourful, satisfying and antioxidant-rich soup, with a delicately smoky flavour.
Bell peppers are extremely nutrient dense. They are low in calories but high in vitamin C, beta-carotene, vitamin K, thiamine, folic acid and vitamin B6.
Bell peppers are also a very good source of phytochemicals with exceptional antioxidant activity, such as chlorogenic acid, coumeric acid, and zeaxanthin.
Studies in Italy have shown that consumption of bell peppers reduced risk for cataract surgery and also had a protective effect against cataracts.
Like tomatoes, red bell peppers also contain lycopene, which is known to protect against cancer and heart disease. Lycopene has been shown to be particularly protective against prostate cancer.
Bell peppers also contain capsaicin, flavonoids and vitamin C, which have been shown to prevent blood clot formation and reduce risk of heart attacks and stroke.
- 1-2 tsp olive oil or 1 tbsp water
- 1 pinch sea salt
- 2 onions (200g/7oz), peeled and chopped
- ½ winter squash (680g/24oz), peeled and chopped
- 1 red pepper, washed, de-seeded and chopped into small pieces
- 1 yellow pepper, washed, de-seeded and chopped into small pieces
- 1 medium potato, peeled and chopped
- 1 can (400g/14oz) chopped tomatoes
- 2-3 tsp smoked paprika
- 1 tbsp sweet white miso, diluted in a little water
- Chopped fresh herbs to garnish
Heat oil or water in a pan, add a pinch of salt and the onions and sweat for 5 minutes until onions are soft and translucent.
Add chopped winter squash, red pepper, yellow pepper, potato, tomatoes and smoked paprika and simmer on a low heat for 20-25 minutes, until vegetables are soft.
Partially blend soup with a hand blender, so the vegetables are reduced to small chunks. Add miso little by little to taste.
Garnish with fresh herbs and serve hot.
You can also visit my website and follow me on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and LinkedIn.