As you search the internet for the perfect butternut soup recipe, has it ever crossed your mind where this delicious squash originates from? Chances are, you believe the humble butternut is traditional South African food, and many Saffas would agree with you! After all, who doesn’t remember tasty butternut fritters smothered in syrup or caramel sauce? Or succulent lamb potjie served with lashings of butternut mash? However, the truth is, the butternut squash originates from America!
Butternut history in a nut-shell
The butternut is botanically considered a fruit but is used primarily as a vegetable in most kitchens. Its versatility in the culinary world is what its creator hoped to achieve when he crossed a gooseneck squash with other squash varieties. Enter the butternut’s founding father, Mr. Charles Legget of Stow, Massachusetts.
In 1940-something, Mr. Legget wanted to grow a tasty squash large enough to feed a family without the overbearing size of the Hubbard squash. According to the history books, he successfully produced the butternut squash we eat today!
7 Benefits of eating butternut squash
The brilliant orangey flesh of the butternut is not only loved for its sweet, nutty flavour. It’s also recognized for its healthy nutrient-filled, and antioxidant properties. Check out eight top reasons why you should include butternut in your diet all year round!
- Source of dietary fibre
Butternut is an excellent source of dietary fibre, which helps relieve digestive complaints such as constipation, bloating, and inflammation. Dietary fibre also improves the immune system and can help with health issues, including heart disease, cancer, and diabetes.
- Promotes a healthy weight
Butternut is low in calories, with one serving containing a mere 82 calories making it the perfect side serving to any meal.
- Prevents and helps to fight certain cancers
This superfood is high in nutrients and helps to keep the body healthy and capable of fighting infection. For example, a protein found in butternut squash has been found to slow the growth of melanoma (skin cancer). In addition, high levels of vitamin C are also beneficial in the fight against lung and ovarian cancer.
- Lowers blood pressure
High potassium levels found in butternut squash can aid in preventing or lowering high blood pressure. This means it lowers the risk of heart attack and stroke.
- Keeps our eyes healthy
Rich in vitamin A, the butternut contains essential carotenoids that work in the retina to prevent macular degeneration.
- Enhances bone density
With age, the body’s bones become brittle, thus placing us at a higher risk of osteoporosis. The butternut contains high levels of calcium, magnesium, manganese, and potassium, which are essential minerals for bone strength and durability.
- Boosts immunity
Beta-carotene found in butternut is a super immune booster that helps the body fight illness and disease. In addition, it is high in vitamin A and C, which are vital in helping the body fight certain cancers, autoimmune diseases, and the common cold.
Butternut soup recipe
The truth is butternut squash is loved in many parts of the world, which means many recipes include its sweet, nutty texture and flavour. However, if you are looking for a South African recipe, look no further than our delicious spicey butternut soup recipe below!
What you need
- 500g peeled and diced butternut squash
- ½ can chopped tomato
- 1 tbsp sunflower oil
- 1 large brown onion diced
- 2 cloves fresh garlic, minced
- 400 ml chicken stock
- 125 ml coconut cream
- 1 tbsp paprika powder
- ½ tsp nutmeg
- 1 stalk lemongrass finely chopped
- 1 pinch of salt and pepper to taste
- Coriander leaves
- 1 chopped chilli pod (only a small pinch required)
What to do
- In a medium to large-sized pot, heat the sunflower oil and add the diced onion. Then fry the onion until soft and glass-like; this takes about 3 minutes. Continue stirring the onions with a wooden spoon to prevent them from sticking to the bottom of the pot.
- Next, add the diced butternut squash, lemongrass, and garlic. Stir the mixture well and allow it to continue frying for a further two minutes.
- Now add the paprika, a pinch of chopped chili, half a can of tomatoes, chicken stock, and a dash of coconut milk.
- Ensure the liquid just covers the butternut squash before placing a lid on the pot and allowing the mixture to cook for about twenty minutes.
- Use a fork to check the squash is tender before placing the mixture into a blender and puree until smooth.
- Pass the butternut soup mixture through a sieve to remove the lemongrass and remove any lumps. The soup should have a smooth velvet-like texture.
- If the soup is very thick, add additional chicken stock or coconut milk for a thinner consistency.
- Pour the strained butternut soup back into the pot and place on low heat. Heat the soup thoroughly before serving.
- Serve in chunky soup bowls or large mugs topped with a dash of coconut milk and an artistically placed coriander leaf.
There is nothing better than hot butternut soup served with wedges of freshly baked homemade bread, crispy breadsticks, or even soft, chewy pretzels. For an even tastier variation, whip up some ham and cheese sliders (ham and cheese bread rolls) baked in the oven until the cheese melts and serve with a steaming bowl of butternut soup!
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