This blog elaborates on the virtues of the delicious butternut squash soup featured in this video. The recipe is fantastic to batch cook and freeze for days when you’re not feeling well and have no energy to cook. Also, a great dish to make and gift to a sick family member or friend.
Ingredients: (Serves 5-6 people)
- 2 tbsp. olive oil
- 3 carrots, chopped
- 1 butternut squash, peeled & chopped
- 2 small onions, peeled and finely chopped
- 1 leek, washed & chopped
- 3 sticks celery, finely chopped
- 1 tsp. grated ginger
- 1 tsp. ground cumin
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1400 mls stock approximately
Crushed wholewheat seeded crackers
Prepping Butternut Squash:
Peeling, dicing and roasting cubes of seasoned butternut undoubtedly brings out the flavour. But it does take a bit of muscle power and energy, so I suggest cooking the squash whole which is much easier. Simply poke a few holes in a butternut squash and place directly on the oven shelf and bake until tender, which should take 45 minutes to an hour in an oven of 180-200°C. I’m giving you a range of times and temperatures as it is best to bake the butternut while you’re using the oven for other things, to be more energy and time efficient.
Alternatively, poke a few holes in the butternut and microwave on high for 5 minutes at a time until tender, turning each time. The butternut should look wrinkled, a bit shrunken and very tender when prodded with a dinner knife. Simply slice open and scoop out the flesh with a spoon and use in the recipe as described.
Freezing and Reheating Soup:
When you have a compromised immune system, food safety is key. A basic rule is that once you have cooked a dish, you have 90 minutes to get it cooled and into the fridge. In the case of soup, I would portion it into single serving containers, leave the lids off and allow to cool. Stirring it a few times also helps to cool it faster. Cover securely and chill in the fridge for at least 4 hours before freezing. The soup can be frozen for up to 2 months. Label and date it clearly. To reheat, microwave until piping hot, stirring after each minute. Alternatively, decant into a pot and bring to the boil slowly, stirring well so that it does not burn. Either way, your soup should be bubbling and really hot. If you have a food thermometer, it should read at least 75°C.
Toppings and Add Ins:
To keep thing interesting, you can change up the toppings you garnish your soup with and the side dishes you serve.
Creamy: a swirl of Greek yoghurt is a healthy option that still gives you a creamy taste and feel.
Crunchy: crushed wholewheat crackers are a quick and easy alternative to traditional croutons.
Crispy: roast chickpeas by rinsing draining and drying a tin of chickpeas, lightly coat in olive oil and smoked paprika. Spread out on a baking tray and bake for 15 minutes at 180°C until crispy.
Fresh: a dollop of pesto gives you a fresh finish when you don’t want to chop up herbs.
Greens: my favourite green add in is frozen spinach, which you can simply add when reheating your soup.
Blitz together 4 cups of loosely packed soft herbs, juice and zest of ½ lemon, 1tsp salt, ¼ tsp black pepper, 1tbsp vinegar and 125ml cup EVOO. Optional: 1 clove garlic, 25g hard cheese, 30g toasted nuts, chilli flakes or fresh chilli.
Side salad and half a sandwich: an easy and balanced lunch is a cup of soup, a small side salad and half a sandwich.
Apple slices: Granny Smith apple slices sprinkled with cinnamon go particularly well with this soup. Sounds odd but it works!
Wholewheat pita bread: Keep these in the freezer for a handy bread option that you can also use as pizza base or make it into pita chips.
Cheesy quesadilla: an easy option for a toasted sandwich. Sprinkle a corn tortilla with grated cheese and sprinkle onions, fold over and toast on a medium heat in a clean dry pan until lightly toasted and the cheese is melted.
How to make a Lemon Vinaigrette:
Mix 250ml EVOO, juice and zest of ½ lemon, 1 ½ tbsp white wine, sherry or apple cider vinegar, tsp Dijon mustard, 1tsp honey, salt and pepper in a glass jar. Give it a good shake before using.
Butternut Squash Purée:
Once you’ve cooked your whole butternut squash, add a little water and blitz with a handheld blender till you get a silky smooth purée. This purée can be frozen in cup sized portions and used in so many ways.
Healthier mac ‘n cheese: add a cup of the purée to you regular cheese sauce and a good grating of fresh nutmeg. I also add sautéed leeks and a bit of smoky bacon.
Pumpkin spice smoothie: blitz together 150g purée, 1 frozen banana, 125ml Greek yoghurt, 125ml milk, a pinch of cinnamon, a pinch of pumpkin spice and honey to taste.
Pasta and gnocchi sauce: Season the puree with salt and pepper and added grated Parmesan cheese. Toss through the pasta or gnocchi and top with crispy pancetta, a handful of rocket leaves, squeeze of lemon and a drizzle of EVOO. Extra Parmesan optional.
Butternut hummus: blitz together 1 cup of purée, 1 x 400g rinsed and drained tin of chickpeas, 1 clove of garlic, 1 tbsp tahini, juice of half a lemon, 2tbps EVOO, salt and pepper, ½ tsp ground cumin, a pinch of cinnamon and a pinch of paprika. Thin down with cold water.
Ginger mash: melt a little butter in a pot and gently sauté a teaspoon of grated fresh ginger. Add the purée, season and heat through for a delicious side dish.
Mix 5tbsp ground cinnamon, 1tbsp ground ginger, 1tbsp ground nutmeg, 1tbsp ground allspice and store in an airtight jar. Lovely in porridge, yoghurt, baking and sprinkled over apple slices.
In this series, chef and author Rozanne Stevens prepares a series of recipes from an evidenced based cookbook called ‘Healthy Eating for Cancer Survivors’ developed by Dr. Aoife Ryan and Dr Éadaoin Ní Bhuachalla, of University College Cork (UCC), and Breakthrough Cancer Research. The Cookbook is available on https://www.breakthroughcancerresearch.ie/product/the-anti-cancer-cookbook/ More videos and recipes are available on
Laya Healthcare has put together a cancer care guide outlining screening, diagnosis, treatment and recovery. Download your guide https://www.layahealthcare.ie/media/site/pdfs/Cancer-Care-Laya-Healthcare.pdf