spiced butternut squash soup with cashew jalapeño cream

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squash I never thought the day would come when I would actually crave soup. I’ve never understood this craving, and I’m just now realizing how crazy it must have sounded to everyone. Growing up in the tropics it was something I rarely ate, and when I did it was never by choice. I’ve lived in cold climates for several years now, but soup still never got me going. This all changed this week somehow (I’m sure the frigid temperatures played a role).  The craving finally hit me and took me a little by surprise. The idea of a warm, hearty, steaming bowl of soup has always made sense, but for some reason my body never felt the need for it. I’m excited that it finally does, and I’m honestly surprised it took so long … it’s a comforting feeling to be able to satisfy a craving and warm your body and soul with a hot bowl of homemade goodness. Maybe this is my body's way of telling me that it’s time to embrace my surroundings (and the cold!), use some seasonal produce to warm me up, and get cozy with a warming meal. Let me tell you, this soup did the trick!

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mise Adding raw cashews to this soup and to the cashew cream (recipe below) lends a beautifully creamy texture to each spoonful. In ayurvedic medicine, cashews are a warming food that support lung function, what a perfect addition to this steamy, spicy soup. Cashews are a good source of antioxidants and trace minerals copper, iron, and zinc and are also high in magnesium, phosphorous and potassium. Cashews  add protein and a rich nutty flavor to this dish. They are also high in healthy unsaturated fats, unlike their saturated fat ladened dairy counterpart, heavy cream.

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mise5With all of the fresh cilantro and jalapeño  dried herbs and spices, and lime in this soup, you’re packing in loads of cleansing antioxidants in each bite. And the kick from the jalapeño continues to keep you warm. If you’re concerned about the spice level, go easy on the jalapeño in the soup, and add a little more into the cream. The rich cashews will mellow out the jalapeño punch and you can choose how much to add for your palate.

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This recipe is inspired by the wonderful Sarah B over at My New Roots. If you haven’t checked out her site yet, I suggest you do because you’re missing out on some delicious, healthy inspiration.

ingredients

1 T olive oil 2 medium onions, diced 6 cloves garlic, minced 1 jalapeno, diced 2 t turmeric 2 t cumin pinch of cayenne 4 c water 1 medium squash, approx. 3 cups diced ½ c raw cashews, soaked for at least 4 hours lime juice salt

directions:

In a large pot, sweat onions and a pinch of salt in olive oil until soft. Add spices, garlic and jalapeno and continue to sweat for a few minutes, until aromatic. Add water and squash and simmer until tender. Turn off heat and ladle into a high powered blender in batches with the soaked cashews and enough liquid to blend. Add liquid as needed, there may be more than you need. Season with lime juice, and salt and pepper as needed. Ladle into bowls and top with cilantro cream. Serves 4-6. (Depending on the strength of your blender, you may need to strain the soup through a fine mesh strainer to reach a truly smooth and creamy texture).

Spicy Cashew Cream

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ingredients:

½ c raw cashews, soaked for at least 4 hours 1 c packed cilantro 2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped 1 jalapeno, seeded and roughly chopped lime juice ¼ - ½ c water

directions:

Place all ingredients in blender and blend on high until smooth, adding water as needed.