VATA PACIFYING AYURVEDIC BUTTERNUT SQUASH SOUP RECIPE

I have noticed that each year, around the same time, I grow weary of the long, hot, dry summer months and begin to look forward to the cool wind and showers of fall and winter. Not only do I grow tired of the persistent California heat, but also of summer foods like green salad, summer squash, and BBQ. I’m a little embarrassed to admit that last part because I am forever grateful for the bountiful summer gardens and for evenings, spent outdoors firing up the grill. In late summer, however, my heart inevitably begins to yearn for heartier fall vegetables like kale, chard, collard greens, and winter squash. More than once I have caught myself in the kitchen daydreaming about cooking up a hot, nourishing bowl of ayurvedic vegetable soup or stew, all cozy inside with the fire burning and cold rain pouring softly outside.

Now that it’s mid-January, my summer daydreams have become a winter reality. Outside it is cold and wet, while inside, my husband has the wood burning stove going and I’m preparing to cook hearty and delicious ayurvedic vegetable soups and stews! Some of my favorites include a faux meatball soup, sweet potato & carrot vegetable soup, and vegetarian chili. Although this sounds like quite a few, I feel like I have not been making the most of soup and stew season because I have not made one of my absolute favorite seasonal recipes yet, a vata dosha calming ayurvedic butternut squash soup!

Just to backtrack, I did not grow up cooking. When I was a child, my Mom was not keen on having me in the kitchen to help. I understand her hesitance now that I am older and I am the one cooking the majority of the meals in our home. Like my predominantly pitta Mom, I usually have a game plan in the kitchen and enjoy cooking solo. In my college days, I taught myself the way around the kitchen and really began to cook in my junior year. At that time, I had a job at a local Gainesville, Florida bookstore called Goering’s Books. I worked the late shift from 3-9 pm. This was around 2007 when the Amazon Boom was just beginning to shut down local bookstores left and right. Unfortunately, Goering’s itself was feeling the effects of the e-commerce shift. Most nights were quiet in the bookstore which was not great for business but, on a positive note, it gave me ample time to read and peruse the store shelves.

The cooking section began to draw me in as I pulled many a cookbook from the shelf. I started writing recipes in my Moleskin Notebook and ended up creating my own personal recipe book. I started with a blackberry basil crumble recipe from Barbara Kingsolver’s book, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle. Whew, I am glad I wrote that one down—so good. From there I added a few more of my favorites. The 6th recipe I jotted down was a butternut squash soup from Book Lover’s Cafe Recipe Book by Ian Schleifer. Book Lover’s was a local vegetarian cafe and bookstore I loved to frequent. Their menu was clean, simple and fresh. With just a few ingredients, the butternut squash soup was so easy to make, perfectly suited to a students budget. Today, I still find this soup to be absolutely perfect in every way. I love how it brings me back to the days when I was just learning my way around the kitchen. I love how simple this recipe is and for its vata-pacifying and nourishing properties, making it perfect for those chilly fall and winter days.

 

DOSHIC QUALITIES OF BUTTERNUT SQUASH

In Ayurveda methodology, fall and winter are considered to be vata dosha season. During this time of year, vata dosha can easily go out of balance due to the colder temperatures settling into the natural world. To counteract the cold, Ayurveda recommends incorporating plenty of root vegetables and winter squash into the diet. The heavy, warming, moist and soft qualities found in vegetables like sweet potatoes, carrots, yams, acorn, and butternut squash help counteract the light, cold, dry and hard qualities of the air and ether elements that make up vata dosha.

If you suffer from dry skin year-round or experience dryness in the fall and winter, it is because vata dosha is increased within your body. An increase in vata can result in things like dry skin and hair, constipation, gas, anxiety, and worry. Preparing ayurvedic vegetable recipes like this butternut squash soup will help you maintain your balance of vata dosha. Butternut squash is rich in vitamin C which helps build collagen production and supports the structure of the skin. Vitamin A is also found in butternut squash and it is necessary for sebum production. The ability to produce sebum is essential to maintain hydrated, supple skin.

So, if you are looking for an ayurvedic squash soup that also helps maintain the health & vitality of your skin, please try this one! This vegetable soup recipe is simple, versatile, full of vitamins and minerals and always pleasing to the palette. If you like it, maybe even add it to your own recipe book.

 

AYURVEDIC BUTTERNUT SQUASH SOUP RECIPE
-vata, +pitta*, +kapha*

Symbols for how this dish affects the doshas:

“-” means calms & helps balance this dosha

“+” means increases & aggravates this dosha

“0” means neutral effect

*this dish is okay in moderation for pitta & kapha in the winter season

 

SERVINGS: 10

PREP TIME: 30 minutes

COOK TIME: 20 minutes

 

INGREDIENTS

  • 10-20 sprigs of thyme, stripped from stems

  • 3 ribs celery, chopped

  • 1 medium onion, chopped

  • ¼ cup parsley, minced

  • 1 bay leaf

  • 10 cups of water

  • cubed butternut squash*

  • 1 TBS. salt

  • 2 cups carrots, chopped

 

PREPARATION

Saute for 10-12 minutes:

  • 10-20 sprigs of thyme, stripped from stems

  • 3 ribs celery, chopped

  • 1 medium onion, chopped

  • ¼ cup parsley, minced

While sauteing, chop 2 cups of carrots. Then, peel, remove seeds and chop 1 medium Butternut Squash* into cubes.

Add to Saute:

  • 1 bay leaf

  • 10 cups of water

  • cubed squash

  • 1 TBS. salt

  • 2 cups carrots, chopped

Simmer 20 minutes, until squash is tender. Remove bay leaf and cool soup slightly.

Place soup in a blender once slightly cooled.

Lastly, add cream or milk, if desired, and a dash of nutmeg. Then, relax and enjoy a delicious, warming bowl of our ayurvedic butternut squash soup.

 

All of us at PAAVANI are wishing you a warm and comforting winter season. May we all have time to slow down and make food mindfully, with loving hands.

 

* Feel free to substitute butternut squash for any other winter squash that you like. You may change the character of the soup by adding a few tablespoons of minced fresh ginger to the sauté, use cilantro instead of parsley and coconut milk instead of cream. Please note, using cilantro instead of parsley and coconut milk instead of cream will result in a cooler soup and could be a great option if pitta dosha is aggravated.

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