I love a good bisque. I also love recipes that are easy. And sometimes in the winter, I need something fun and cheerful to break up those cloudy gray skies. So, I made this orange soup that is bright and sunny in color and flavor. Turns out it’s pretty good for you, too.
Winter squashes are one of my most favorite vegetables. Butternut, acorn, delicata, hubbard, kabocha… they all are awesome and I love them in every shape and form! I think it’s a combination of their fun and interesting shapes, their pretty orange insides, and their sweet, earthy flavors that make me so crazy for them. I promise that if you are ever over at my house in the winter months, there is going to be some sort of random gourd sitting in the basket, waiting to be cooked. I can never resist buying another!
Anyway, my point is, I love a good squash and I love a good bisque. I also love a reason to learn more about why plants are so awesome. So read on to learn about orange compounds and fighting disease!
What makes it orange?
Winter squash, sweet potatoes, carrots and oranges are orange in color because of carotenoids, like beta-carotene, lutein, and zeaxanthin. Most of the carotenoids in the veggies are in the form of beta-carotene, which is a precursor to Vitamin A. This means that your body will take the beta-carotene and convert it to Vitamin A. Vitamin A is used by your body to (1):
- promote eye health
- stimulate white blood cell production and activity (aka boost your immune system)
- helps remodel bone (aka keep bones healthy and strong)
- helps endothelial cells stay healthy (they are cells that line in the inside of your body)
- regulate cell growth and division (also helps with reproduction aka making babies)
- may delay or prevent development of Lou Gehrig’s Disease (2) (interesting!)
All that information definitely makes me love squash (and sweet potatoes and carrots) even more!
Add in the zest to protect the breast
Adding in lemon and orange juice and zest to this soup adds extra carotenoids. I have a deep attachment to my microplane zester and I use it all the time because adding zest gives a dish that extra boost of flavor. Turns out that these citrus carotenoids are also good at fighting cancer, especially breast cancer. Studies have found a 10% reduction in breast cancer (3)! Just by eating citrus fruits. That’s crazy to me, and good news, since I constantly am adding lemon zest (and juice) to my dishes.
So how is this working? The citrus compounds are helping aid DNA repair. Every day, your DNA takes a beating from oxidative stresses (such as environmental exposures, stress, chemicals, unhealthy foods). The foods we eat help to repair the DNA so that it can continue to function properly (if we eat whole plant foods, that is!). Damages in DNA leads to diseases, one such is cancer.
Then the question always asked next is – can’t I just take a supplement?
And the answer is: No.
It just doesn’t work. Studies have looked at it and the supplement did nothing for DNA repair (4)! There’s no money in telling people to eat oranges, but there is if you can make a pill, right? So that’s why you still will see such supplements being sold. But the reality is that there is something very complex happening when you bite a piece of citrus. It has the carotenoids that we know are so important, but they are attached to many many other citrus compounds. Together, they make the citrus effective in your body. Broken up, they are useless. In fact, even just drinking the juice is not any good. So eat the whole fruit and add in the zest for the best protection for your DNA!
If you want to learn more about citrus and DNA repair, check out the great video by Dr. Gregor, MD that I posted below.
I hope you enjoyed learning about carotenoids and that you also enjoy this recipe. If you make it, please tag me in a photo on instagram as I love to see you eating well to be well.
Orange Squash Soup
Makes about 6 servings
Brighten up your day with cheerful orange soup made with winter squash, sweet potato, carrots, lemon, ginger and orange.
Author: Leah Romay
- 1 onion, roughly chopped
- 4 garlic cloves, sliced
- 1 tsp salt
- few grinds of black pepper
- 1 T grated fresh ginger root
- 3 stalks celery, chopped
- 8 cups water
- 3 carrots, chopped
- 1 large sweet potato, peeled and chopped
- 1 large kabocha squash, cut into chunks
- 2 T raw honey
- juice and zest of 1 lemon
- juice and zest of 1 orange
- Begin by chopping the kabocha squash into large chunks and removing the seeds. Place kabocha squash chunks in a large pot with a steamer basket and steam until just tender. Alternatively you can roast the squash for 30 mins at 400 F. The goal is to soften the squash a bit so that you can easily remove the outer skin. Kabocha squash skin is very tough to remove when the squash is raw.
- Once you have the squash steaming or roasting, chop up the other ingredients. This will save you time.
- In a large Dutch oven pot over medium heat, add 2 T olive oil. Add the onions and garlic, cooking for 5 minutes. Then add the celery and cook another 3 minutes.
- By now, the squash should be cooked enough that it will be easy to remove the skins. Carefully transfer the squash pieces to a cutting board and cut off the skin.
- Back to the pot – Add the salt, pepper, and grated ginger and stir to combine. Add the carrots, sweet potato, squash and water. Cover with a lid and bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce to low and simmer for 10-15 minutes until all of the veggies are very soft.
- Transfer the contents of the pot to a blender and puree in batches. Alternatively, use an immersion blender.
- Add in the honey, lemon and orange juice and zest. Stir well to combine.
- Serve with a dollop of coconut yogurt, a sprinkle of pumpkin seeds, and maybe a nice slice of whole grain bread.