As you may or may not know, I, Janet, am the holistic nutritionist who’s written all the health and lifestyle tidbits (Nutrition Nuggets, I call them) for the margins of our four books. Greta, the cooking genius, doesn’t let me anywhere near the kitchen when she’s developing recipes, except to devour her culinary masterpieces when they’re done and tell her how great they are. (Tough job I have, huh?) She won’t let me in the kitchen because I chop vegetables with a steak knife, I open cans backwards, awkwardly, and with the wrong hand, and I take an hour to make minute rice. Utensils can be lethal weapons in my hands. Trust me. It can get ugly. Really ugly. Some people refer to Greta as “Canada’s Martha Stewart.” I would be more like Rod Stewart.
It all goes back to childhood. You see, my mother Alfreda, a wonderful cook who stored all of her recipes inside her Polish brain, also banished me from the kitchen at a very young age. It happened like this: One day, when I was walking home from school, I found a dead sparrow at the side of the road. Instead of doing what most little kids would think to do — perhaps gently placing it in a shoe box, giving it a proper burial in some grassy, shady corner of our yard — I picked up the bird, took it home, wrapped it in wax paper and scribbled “Pork Chops” on the package. I plunked it in our downstairs freezer and went on with my business of being an eight-year-old.
Sure enough, about a month later on a lovely Sunday morning, my mom decided that we’d have a nice family meal after church. Maybe something on the barbeque. So she sauntered downstairs to the freezer to take out some por… “Aaaaahhhh! Dear God in heaven!” I can still hear her piercing scream, even to this day! My practical joke didn’t go over very well, to say the least, and I didn’t get any of my “allowance” that week. I felt sick about the whole thing. Guess it was bird flu? Ha!
So, when Greta called me to say she’d developed a delicious, mostly organic, squash/ginger soup that she thought I’d love, I should have known better than to try and make it. What was I thinking? Me? Peel a butternut squash? I’d never bought a butternut squash before, let alone carve one. Would it be like carving a jack-o-lantern? How hard can it be? Greta told me to first cut the squash in half and then work with those smaller pieces. Sounded easy. I felt confident!
Well, it took me half an hour to cut and peel that monster! I’ve never been more frustrated in my life. I felt like a clumsy, fumbling NFL football wide receiver. The dumb squash kept slipping out of my hands and onto the floor, and it took all of my strength and body weight to get my stupid knife through it. (I hope I didn’t dull my steak knife too much.) I came close to severing my left arm at the elbow many times. At one point, I had beads of sweat pouring down my brow and was so aggravated, I had to choke back tears. Impossible, since I now had to chop an onion, too, just to add insult to near-injury. I guess because I don’t cut onions very often, they have quite a dramatic effect on my tear ducts. Bobbi Brown concealer, eyeliner and mascara + sore, salty, stinging, dripping peepers = NOT a hot look. Greta tells me that chefs don’t cry when they peel onions because their eyes become used to the whole ridiculous procedure. Well good for them!! I, on the other hand, will be wearing a scuba mask the next time I have to go toe to toe with any ol’, stinky scallion.
Anyway, after what seemed like an eternity of excruciating chopping and sobbing, I finished the soup. And I’ll have to admit that it was delicious! Simply divine, in fact. Super-nutrient-dense and very low-calorie. Just the kind of thing that’s great to have on hand for a healthy, satisfying snack so you don’t reach for junk. I love to eat it for breakfast, too, especially in the winter. Warm, silky and comforting. Mmmm!
Will I make squash soup again? Uh…I’m really counting on Greta making it FOR me! (In fact, I’d LOVE to see more soups like this in our line of healthy, prepared products sold at Costco.) I told her that, although her soup was to-die-for, the only way I’d get battered by another butternut squash in my life would be if I somehow landed in prison (too many speeding tickets?) and I had to report to kitchen duty where they forced me to make squash soup for all the other inmates. That’s the only way I’d carve again. For me, life’s just too short to wrestle a squash. Greta butternut hold that against me!
In case you’re a squash-carving veteran, here’s Greta’s simple, simply delicious soup recipe. Seriously, it’s WELL worth the effort. (Try to use as many organic ingredients as you can.):
1 tbsp olive oil or preferably, coconut oil
1.5 cups coarsely chopped onions (not red)
2 tsp minced garlic
1 tbsp (at least) grated gingerroot
1 tsp curry powder
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1 carton (1 litre) Organic Vegetable Broth
1.5 cups PC Organic Carrot Juice
1 good-sized butternut squash (about 2.5 lbs), peeled and chopped
1 large organic apple (I used Royal Gala), peeled and chopped
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
Heat oil over medium heat in a big soup pot. Add onions and garlic. Cook and stir until onions are softened, about 5 minutes. Add gingerroot, curry and cumin. Cook and stir for 30 more seconds. Add broth, carrot juice, squash, apples, salt, and pepper. Bring soup to a boil. Reduce heat to low. Cover and simmer for about 14 minutes, or until squash is tender. Puree in blender until smooth. Yum!