Day 4: Thai Curried Roasted Butternut Squash Soup

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For Day 4 of BlogHer's Countdown to Soup Swap Series, Jeanette shares an inspiring story of teaching soup to seniors -- plus a recipe for a spicy butternut squash soup.

Countdown to Soup SwapWe're counting down to National Soup Swap Day with soup ideas every day for two weeks! Come back each day to see more soup -- or click here to find all the soups in the series. And sign up for the newsletter to get soup in your inbox!

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Soup has been on my mind a lot lately. I have the opportunity to teach a soup series to a group of seniors at our local community center starting next week, and have been trying different soups out this week, hoping to come up with some tasty treats for my "students" (I know they can teach me a lot more than I'll ever teach them!).

The concept for this soup series came about last summer when I came across an article, The Kids Are All Right, But What About The Elderly, which addresses the need to bring seniors back into the culinary community. As people age, even if they used to cook healthfully, they often stop cooking, turning to "convenience" foods (canned foods), and more processed and artificial foods (frozen dinners, "butter" spreads). The article surmises that perhaps this happens because they're living alone, they're not motivated to cook any longer, or just aren't well enough to cook any longer. With all the attention on raising healthier children, why isn't more attention being directed toward our seniors?

I know my parents, who are both now in their 80's, sometimes struggle to put a meal on the table every night, and both my mom and dad are stellar cooks. They used to whip up Chinese banquet style meals for guests, course after course (o, they probably spent several days preparing all the food!). What used to be fun has become a chore, something done out of necessity to ensure a healthy meal on the dinner table.

butternut squash soup

That's not the way it should be, and I believe that there are some ways the community can encourage seniors to do a little more cooking, and perhaps, make it into a social event, perhaps hosting a soup swap. A bowl of soup, combined with a fresh green salad and a slice of whole grain bread, makes a comforting, nutritious meal. And since soup can be made in large quantities, it's perfect for freezing into smaller portions.

Little did I know that when I forwarded this article to the director at our community center, along with a suggestion that they consider offering soup cooking classes to seniors, that this idea would blossom into a series of classes, let alone, that I would be the one teaching them. I am so grateful for this wonderful opportunity to give back to the seniors in our community.

I would love to hear if you have any healthy soup recipes to share, and if you have any ideas on how to get seniors back into the kitchen.

Here's the Thai Curried Roasted Butternut Squash Soup I came up with, a twist on the traditional roasted butternut soup. I love roasted vegetables for their caramelly sweet flavor, and I also love Thai flavors, so why not combine them into a cozy Thai-flavored roasted butternut squash soup? I had some adzuki beans on hand, so I also stirred some into the soup, which added some nice texture to each spoonful (and some protein).

Thai Curried Roasted Butternut Squash Soup

Roasting the vegetables adds sweetness and depth to this soup. I use a little coconut milk to round out the flavors and add even more lusciousness. I also added adzuki beans for a heartier soup and some interest. If you like a simple smooth soup, just leave the beans out. By the way, this soup isn't just for seniors -- my 8-year-old loved it!

2½ pounds or about 8 cups butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into 1-inch pieces

1 large sweet potato, peeled, cut into 1-inch pieces

2 medium onion, cut into 1/2-inch slices

3 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil, divided

1/2 teaspoon Thai red curry paste

One 1-inch slice ginger, peeled and chopped

3 cloves garlic, chopped

4 cups vegetable stock

1/2 cup light coconut milk

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

1 1/2 cups cooked adzuki beans, optional

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place squash, sweet potato and onion in a large mixing bowl. Drizzle with 3 tablespoons olive oil and toss vegetables well. Transfer vegetables to a parchment paper lined baking sheet in a single layer. Bake for 40 minutes, or under tender

Heat 1 teaspoon oil in a large stockpot. Add red curry paste, ginger and garlic and stir well. Cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add vegetable stock, coconut milk, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and cook, covered, for 10 minutes.

Place roasted vegetables and stock in a blender and blend until smooth. You will need to do this in several batches, depending on the size of your blender.  Return blended soup to stockpot.

Stir in adzuki beans, if desired.

Serves 4-6.

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