With Thanksgiving right around the corner, I thought this would be the perfect time to start sharing some meal ideas so you can start planning out your menu. Nobody wants to feel like a bloated marshmallow around the holidays, so take some time to plan out a few paleo-friendly dishes that will keep you feeling good and on track. No need to “cheat” when you can make something that is delicious and healthy. Keep reading!
This soup is perfect to bring to a potluck or family gathering. You can make it ahead of time, even freeze it if you need to, and then transport it in a slow cooker. If the thought of using a slow cooker makes you go nahhh, no thanks at the thought of scrubbing that heavy ceramic pot, try using a liner and then come back and tell me that your life has been forever changed. I cannot be the only person that owned a slow cooker for years without knowing these wonderful and convenient liners existed? They are also BPA-free, so these things have my approval.
If you are able to find butternut squash already prepped at the grocery store, snatch it up and run to the register! Otherwise, do a little bit of stretching, put on some music, and get ready to spend some quality time prepping that squash!
Here are a few tips:
- Use a sharp vegetable peeler! I have officially retired the vegetable peeler I purchased in college from Dollar Tree. Adiós. You will know the difference when it comes to peeling vegetables with tough skins, like a butternut squash. Your forearms will also be thankful. Unless of course you’re already in great shape, which in that case, please come over here and help me peel my vegetables! So, peel that squash until it’s 100% naked. Then cut the stem off and make a cut lengthwise along the squash. Scoop out the seeds (set them aside for roasting), and then you will have something manageable that you can chop up into cute little cubes. Victory!
- Speaking of cutting and chopping, try using a paring knife and you’ll be able to cut with the skills of a ninja. It’s my favorite knife for prep work! I do have the huge butcher block knife that I guess would be helpful if I were a fishmonger or an Iron Chef, but I’m neither, and frankly, that thing is bigger than my head and it terrifies me. Am I the only one that freaks out when watching Chopped and the contestants are frantically hacking away at a red onion with what looks like a machete? Why in the world is that kitchen stocked with weapons of mortal combat?! Whatever you prefer, just make sure it’s sharp and that you feel comfortable with it.
Looking for a vegetarian version? Skip the bacon, and replace the bacon grease with olive oil or coconut oil. Top it with lots of delicious walnuts. It will still be nice and hearty! I’ll definitely be making this soup for Thanksgiving to feed my crazy family. It’s a great appetizer and helps to keep the hangries (hungry angry person) at bay. Looking for some more healthy-eating inspiration? I just saw a tasty-looking curried version of this dish over at the recipe page on ALOHA. They have lots of healthy, gluten-free recipes that are, ahem, Yaya recommended. So, make sure to check them out!
I garnished this soup with crispy bacon, roasted butternut squash seeds, and some parsley. Toasted walnuts and fresh thyme would also be great, or some crumbled sausage with fresh sage. Try out some different combinations, and let me know what you think! What sort of recipes do you have planned for Thanksgiving? Share any ideas in the comments!
- 1 large butternut squash (approximately 3 pounds), peeled and cubed
- 1 medium red onion, diced
- 2 medium carrots, diced
- 2 garlic cloves
- 3 cups low-sodium chicken broth or stock
- 1 cup full-fat canned coconut milk
- 1 tsp dried thyme
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp cumin powder
- 1 tsp cinnamon powder
- 1 tsp ginger powder
- 1/4 tsp black pepper
- 1 lb bacon, chopped
- 2 tbs bacon grease
- 2 tbs coconut oil
- Chopped parsley, for garnish
- Preheat oven to 400°F. To prepare squash: peel skin with a vegetable peeler, cut stem off, and cut lengthwise. Scoop seeds out (set aside to roast), and dice squash into small cubes.
- Coat butternut squash, onion, carrots, and garlic with 2 tbs coconut oil and roast in oven for 30 minutes, or until tender.
- Add bacon to a pan over medium heat and cook until crispy. Drain bacon, set aside. Transfer 2 tbs bacon grease to a large pot over medium heat. Add spices to pot and cook for approximately 1 minute. Add butternut squash, onion, carrots, and garlic to pot. Add chicken broth (or stock) and coconut milk, and stir well. Simmer over medium heat for 5 minutes.
- (Optional step): Increase oven to 450°F. Rinse butternut squash seeds, pat dry with a paper towel. Arrange seeds on a baking sheet and sprinkle with ancho chile pepper and salt. Roast seeds for 5-10 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove immediately from oven and set aside for garnish.
- Use an immersion blender or transfer soup in batches to a standing blender and blend until smooth. Adjust seasoning if necessary and add additional chicken broth if soup becomes too thick.
- Garnish with bacon, roasted seeds, and chopped parsley.