A steaming hot bowl of butternut squash soup is a powerhouse of nutrition.
With each spoonful, there’s refreshing Vitamin C, soothing magnesium, balancing potassium, and liver-nourishing beta carotene.Jump to Recipe
I am attributing these qualities to the squash, but this soup also contains beets.
Vegetables that are deep orange, red, blue, and purple support liver health.
Signs of liver stress include heat and irritation in mind or body, an overreactive immune system, and general inflammation.
So if you’re feeling irritated, or concerned about inflammation, it’s time for some delicious soup to soothe and restore balance.
According to Ayurveda, foods that support the liver are known as livotonics.
Ayurveda is a traditional system of healthcare originating in ancient India that treats root causes in mind, body and spirit with individualized diet and lifestyle remedies.
The use of herbal tonics are unique to Ayurveda, and a livotonic specifically restores liver function by strengthening the liver tissue.
Generally, liver tonics are oily, cool, sweet, mildly sour, or contain beta-carotene.
This soup contains the number one livotonic, which is beets, as well as winter squash, cilantro, and lime.
Some other examples are apples, almond milk, avocado, blueberry, bone broth, carrots, coconut, ghee, grapes, sweet potatoes, yams, and homemade yogurt.
WINTER SQUASH: Buy enough winter squash of your choice to yield 3-4 cups of roasted squash flesh.
Ideally, choose from buttercup, kabocha, red kabocha, red kuri or blue kuri (also known as Hokkaido), turban (also known as giraumon), or sugar pumpkin.
Butternut is also okay, and best for Vata dosha.
Exclude Spaghetti squash for this recipe, since it is too watery. Also exclude delicata and acorn because they are also watery, and difficult to peel.
BEETS: Choose red beets to create a rich orange-red hue in the finished dish.
Beets are most beneficial for Vata and Pitta for different reasons. Vata due to their sweet and warming qualities, and Pitta due to their blood cleansing and liver supportive qualities.
You might not know that beets are anti-inflammatory. This quality, along with a blood thinning effect, is going to balance out the heavy quality of the winter squash.
CELERY ROOT/CELERIAC: With a taste like celery with a hint of parsley, celery root is a warming bitter that is especially balancing for Kapha.
Unlike celery stalk, which is pure bitter and pungent, celery root has a mild touch of sweetness added into the mix.
Both celery root and celery are best for Kapha dosha. So with this ingredient we are really bringing in a cutting element to counter any cloying sweetness from the squash, and give this dish more balance for Kapha.
ONIONS & GARLIC: Onions and garlic add mild sweet and pungent elements to the dish, as well as excellent prebiotic soluble fiber to feed your good gut bacteria.
TURMERIC: Invigorate your blood with anti-inflammatory turmeric. It detoxifies the liver, promotes digestion, and is literally teeming with antioxidants. This is my go-to favorite ingredient.
CORIANDER POWDER: This is another bitter pungent. Since bitter is cooling and pungent is heating, both tastes cancel each other out to mostly neutral in terms of thermal quality.
I love coriander for its earthy taste. I think it tastes sweet. It certainly smells sweet.
I especially enjoy coriander with any, and all, root vegetables.
Another great health benefit is that coriander is known to bind with toxins and carry them out of the body through the urine.
CUMIN POWDER: Another earthy spice, but with much more pungency and heat than coriander, cumin nearly always makes its presence known.
One of the main ways you know cumin is when you feel really good after eating, because cumin is a powerful digestive aid.
Being both aromatic and pungent, cumin stimulates peristalsis, which propels food through the digestive tract.
So cumin is another spice that’s helping to balance out the heaviness of the winter squash.
An Ayurvedic approach
I am an Ayurvedic nutrition and digestive health coach, and to benefit the most from an Ayurvedic approach to your diet, getting to know your body type is a good place to start because there are modifications you can make to suit your type.
The three main body types (also known as doshas) are:
VATA (light, dry, cold, air and ether)
PITTA (hot, sharp, oily, fire and water)
KAPHA (cool, heavy, gooey, earth and water)
If you want to learn your dosha, you can take my simple dosha quiz here.
If you already know your dosha, keep reading to learn more about how this soup recipe can support you, as well as dosha-specific modifications you can consider.
Due to its incredible liver nourishing qualities, this soup is most beneficial for Pitta types. I also feel that it is fairly balanced thermally, meaning it’s not going to be heating.
Vata types also benefit from the soothing sweet qualities of this winter squash soup, but they will want to ensure ample addition of the sour taste, so that the astringent qualities of the squash don’t dry them out.
It’s Kapha types who risk feeling heavy if they were to enjoy a giant bowl of steaming hot winter squash soup.
My Kapha’s would be smart to resist that large bowl, and opt for a smaller portion instead. A small amount is not going to hurt you!
That’s because we’ve got ways to take care of the heavy quality of this soup through the recipe design. In this case the garlic, spices, and celery root.
Kapha’s can also add some additional pungent spices, such as red chili or black pepper. You can also thin out the soup to lighten it up.
How to roast squash
The first step in this soup is to roast the squash, however there are other options.
You may skip this step by opting for 2 cans of prepared pumpkin or squash.
You may purchase prepared and peeled cubes of squash, if available.
You may also steam the squash instead of roasting.
Roasting intensifies and sweetens the flavor of the squash by drying it out.
Going the roasting route also saves you the trouble of peeling the squash with a knife, which can be quite challenging.
To prepare the squash for roasting, use your biggest chef’s knife to slice off each end. Then slice it in half and use a large metal spoon to remove the seeds.
There’s nothing else you need to do. Place the squash halves, cut-sides-down, on a baking tray lined with parchment.
It takes 30-50 minutes to bake in a hot oven, depending on the size of the squash.
You’ll know the squash is cooked when a sharp knife inserts easily through the skin and comes out again.
Once it cools, we’ll scoop out the soft, succulent flesh to use in the soup.
How to make
While the squash is roasting, you can start the soup.
Create the flavor base in your soup pot by sautéing the onions and garlic with the spices, then adding the water or stock, along with the beets, celery root, and salt.
Simmer until the beets are cooked. By this time, your squash will be ready. Add it into the simmering soup. Now things get really exciting.
After about 5 more minutes, it’s time to puree with an immersion blender and watch the carefully prepared elements come together into a harmonious, healing whole.
You can make this!
In most cases, I enjoy creating recipes that give an overall balanced effect by combining ingredients together.
This roasted squash soup is a refreshing way for anyone to indulge in the joys of the fall harvest all-year-long.
I invite you to explore the wide variety of winter squashes available on the market, and choose 1-2 of your favorites!
Then enjoy the process of making a soup, knowing that it will nourish your liver, as well as mind and body.
Recipe for Roasted Winter Squash Soup
Helpful Kitchen Tools:
To bake in the oven
- 1-2 winter squashes , enough for 3-4 cups squash flesh; see notes
To start the soup
To add to the soup
- 4 cups water or vegetable stock
- 2 cups beets, peeled and chopped
- 1-2 cups celery root, sub with celery stalk; see notes
- ½ teaspoon salt
To finish the soup
- ¼ cup cilantro, finely chopped
- lime, freshly squeezed
- salt, to taste
Roast the squash
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Wash the squash, then remove the top and bottom. Slice it in half lengthwise using your largest chef’s knife. Use a large metal spoon to remove the seeds. Place the squash halves, cut-sides-down, on a baking tray lined with parchment.
- Cook for 30-50minutes, until a sharp knife inserts easily through the skin and comes out again. You will also smell the juices that are released from the squash as it cooks when they start browning.
- Allow the squash to cool until you can handle it, then scoop out the soft, succulent flesh to use in the soup.
Make the soup
- Chop onions, garlic, beets, and celery root. The beets and celery root will need to be peeled first. You may need to cut the skin off the celery root, but for the beets, a vegetable peeler works well.
- Heat a large saucepan on medium-high heat. Add ghee, garlic, and onions. Cook until the onions are lightly browned.
- Add the coriander, turmeric, cumin, and spice masala. Stir for 20-30 seconds, until you can smell the aroma.
- Add water or vegetable stock, followed by the prepared beets, celery root, and salt. Simmer until the beets are fully cooked, about 25 minutes. By this time, your squash will be ready. Scoop out the flesh from the skins and add it to the simmering soup.
- After about 5 more minutes, turn off the heat and use an immersion blender to puree the soup until smooth.
Finish the soup
- Stir in finely chopped cilantro. Squeeze in half a fresh lime. Taste and adjust for salt. Add more salt or lime if needed. Add little red chili if you want it more spicy.