I just returned from a wonderful trip to the east coast (my husband had to be near there on business and I got to tag along!) and was so pleased to be able to visit the National Shrine of the Divine Mercy. I'll have a blog post about that very soon, but the fall colors and the gorgeous backdrop of the Berkshires was picture-perfect on cool, crisp autumn days in Stockbridge, MA. While my husband worked during the day (poor guy), I was able to rest and relax at the historic Red Lion Inn, peruse the quaint shops, take long autumn walks, and treat myself to solo lunches. It was a perfect little retreat for myself! The days were so beautiful that I could even eat al fresco in a cute little courtyard with my Catholic book of the moment. Walking up the very steep hill to the shrine was exercise in and of itself, helping me on my weight loss plan (as well as daily bike rides and time on the treadmill). I spent a few blessed hours each day at the shrine, beginning with Eucharistic Adoration, the Rosary, Holy Mass, and the Divine Mercy chaplet at 3:00. So it was a religious retreat of sorts for me, and I enjoyed every moment of it. It was some much-needed R & R, filled with lots of prayer and discernment.
But even on religious retreats, one has to eat, right? It was at one of these lunches that I was able to have my first butternut squash soup of the season, and I came home craving it! So on this sunny, cool autumn day in Michigan, I got to work and made a batch of this soup from Cooking Light magazine, trying to recreate the soup I had at a little cafe on the village's main street. I wasn't disappointed! If you are so inclined, make a batch yourself! I included the recipe here, with a few changes of my own to make it even better! It's rich and creamy, and I even decided against the half-and-half, opting to use lowfat milk instead. It will fill you up on a cold day!
Butternut Squash Soup
1 tablespoon butter
3 1/2 cups cubed, peeled butternut squash (about 1 1/2 pounds...to save time, I bought it already prepared in the refrigerated section of the grocery store)
3/4 cup chopped carrot
1/2 cup chopped onion
2 1/2 cups fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
1/4 cup 2% milk
1/8 teaspoon salt
dashes of nutmeg and cinnamon
Melt butter in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add squash, carrot, and onion. Saute for about 12 minutes. Add chicken broth and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and let simmer for 30 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in milk and salt. With an immersion blender, blend until smooth.
Sprinkle nutmeg and cinnamon into soup and enjoy!