Spicy Squash & Peanut Soup

I’m about to say something that many of you are probably well aware of (hey, old friends!) and is a big newsflash to others (welcome, new readers, especially those who don’t know anything about me!): I used to be seventy-five pounds heavier. Unfortunately, I don’t have any magic tricks up my sleeve for those of you fighting similar battles – there is nothing mystical about diet and exercise. But I can share a piece of advice about maintaining that weight loss: always strive for something better.

Since losing the weight, I’ve been consistently working out, usually with a goal in mind, like running a half marathon or completing New Rules of Lifting for Women. Nowadays I continue to lift weights, not because I’m training to compete against anyone else, but because I find it’s the best way to keep challenging myself. And, if you’ll let me brag for a moment: people are always asking me if I’ve lost weight. I haven’t. With weight lifting, I can pretty much fluctuate around the same few pounds but my body shape and composition just get better and better. My diet has also improved and evolved from strict calorie counting to learning that all calories are not created equal. Now, I try to fill up on (mostly) wholesome, lean foods with an emphasis on protein.

I’m sure I have some critics in my life who mistake my commitment to diet and exercise as lack of self-acceptance. Those people think I need to give myself a break, stop feeling fat, and  just be happy that I lost seventy-five pounds. But here’s the thing – I am proud of that, and I love myself just the way I am (how many of you can say that?) The reason I keep plugging away at this is not because I feel like I’m “not good enough” but rather because I know I can always get better. Nothing is perfect, and even what is seemingly so always has room for improvement.

Like this soup. I first made it a couple years ago, and we’ve been loving it ever since. It might just be one of our favorite soups of all time. But there was a problem. Two, actually. First, it didn’t have a photo. (I know that fabulous recipes are more important than photos on a food blog, but let’s face it: hardly anyone is drawn to a recipe without a photo anymore. That means all of you have been missing out on this one.) I discovered the second problem as I prepared this batch for its photo shoot. It wasn’t quite spicy enough. That was an easy fix, and doing so confirmed this soup is definitely a favorite. I hope it becomes one of yours too.

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Spicy Squash and Peanut Soup

Yield: 4 servings

Ingredients:

1 cup chopped onions
1 1/2 lbs peeled, diced butternut squash
6 cloves of garlic, minced
1 chipotle pepper in adobo sauce, minced
1 1/2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp cinnamon
kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
1 quart fat free, reduced sodium chicken broth or vegetable broth
14oz can diced tomatoes
2/3 cup (170gm) natural peanut butter
chopped cilantro

Directions:

Heat a large saucepan over medium-low heat. Spray with nonstick cooking spray and add onions. Cook until softened, about 5 minutes, adjusting the heat down if they begin to brown. Add the garlic, minced chipotle pepper and seasonings; cook for 1 minute more. Add the squash and toss to coat, then add the broth, diced tomatoes, and peanut butter. Increase heat to high and stir well.

When the soup comes to a boil, cover, reduce the heat, and simmer for 15-20 minutes, until squash is tender. Remove from heat and puree the soup, either with an immersion blender, or in batches in a food processor or blender.

Garnish with chopped cilantro.

Nutrition Facts:

Amount Per Serving
Calories: 385.8
Total Fat: 21.6 g
Cholesterol: 4.9 mg
Sodium: 1,162.3 mg
Total Carbs: 39.7 g
Dietary Fiber: 9.4 g
Protein: 15.2 g

One last thing. It turned out to be the perfect time to make this hearty soup again because my friend Branny is hosting a Charity Souperbowl. This means that for every blogger who makes a soup and dedicates a post to a special animal, B will donate $1 to the ASPCA. Win, right?

So I dedicate this post to me dear Phoebe. She’s no longer with us, but everytime I’m driving to my parents’ house I still imagine she will be there to greet us.

You can easily participate too, whether you are a blogger or not – just visit Branny’s site for details!

I am also sharing this soup with Amy for her Slightly Indulgent Tuesday Feature on 1/11/2010. I always like checking out all the other entries – I suggest you take a peak!

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38 Responses to “Spicy Squash & Peanut Soup”

  1. 1

    Katie @ Health for the Whole Self — January 10, 2011 @ 3:22 pm Reply

    Love the recipe, and love this post. I am a firm believer that self-acceptance doesn't mean that we can't keep striving for something better; indeed, self-acceptance means that we never stop doing just that.

  2. 2

    Capitol to Capital — January 10, 2011 @ 3:22 pm Reply

    I've made a similar soup with sweet potato! Delicious. Congrats on all you've accomplished. My mom has been a fitness instructor since I was born, and I'm forever indebted to her for raising me with an addiction to exercise and the knowledge to eat in a happy, healthy, balanced way.Making your Moroccan chicken in the crockpot this week!

  3. 3

    janet — January 10, 2011 @ 5:04 pm Reply

    Cara, you are an inspiration! :) I just picked up long-distance cycling last year and (mentally) signed up for my longest challenge yet – a hilly 356 km over 2 days in June. I know I should be training with weights, too, but only do it once a week. I CAN do better! :)This recipe looks great – I never knew tomato and peanut butter worked so well together until I tried it myself in a similar-style stew (also included some kidney beans and sweet potato instead of squash).Btw, thanks for the tip re: the heat diffuser. I WISH I had a gas stove. Instead I have a glasstop instead, even worse for my new tagine and cast-iron takoyaki pan. :P

  4. 4

    Joanne — January 10, 2011 @ 5:26 pm Reply

    My father is always asking me why I have to always be so health obsessed all the time, as he puts it, but I don't think wanting to have veggie-rich meals makes me obsessed! It just makes me healthy.You are so inspiring Cara, one of the many reasons why I <3 you so much! This soup sounds delicious especially with the extra spice!

  5. 5

    That Girl — January 10, 2011 @ 7:17 pm Reply

    I'm just like you with squash, so I'd have recognized a fabulous recipe even without a fabulous picture. And here.you have both!

  6. 6

    Dawn — January 10, 2011 @ 7:21 pm Reply

    That would be almost everyone I work with. They are always looking at me rushing off to the gym at lunch like I'm crazy. I bring food for pot lucks but only grab the fruit along with several other "quirks". They can't understand why I'm doing all this when I'm already in good shape. It's so good to know that someone else feels the same way. Is always striving to be better. I definitely agree that all calories are most definitely not created equal. And I'm with you on the lifting weights as well. I'm usually the only girl in the weight room at lunch! And you know me. This soup is right up my alley. Squash and peanut butter. To die for!

  7. 7

    Kelly — January 10, 2011 @ 7:36 pm Reply

    Love the honesty in this post. I had no idea, but your story is very inspiring. Thanks Cara.

  8. 8

    Barbara — January 10, 2011 @ 7:39 pm Reply

    Stay proud, Cara, and keep up the working out. Makes for stronger bones, good flexibility and staying power!I love the spices you've put in your soup! Unexpected and I bet delicious!

  9. 9

    Lizzy — January 10, 2011 @ 8:59 pm Reply

    Cara I love your writing. I love your opening paragraphs and how you relate it to the food you cook. You are so inspiring!! I just made one of your recipes because all of them are so good! I seriously don't know what I would have done if I never found your blog. Healthy, clean eating is impressive. One question- did you ever get your body fat percentage tested before you started lifting? I just got mine calculated and now I want to make strength training more of a priority.

  10. 10

    Table Talk — January 11, 2011 @ 11:17 am Reply

    What an accomplishment! That's something you should be incredibly proud of. I am a firm believer in including weight training into your exercise plan. Especially as I get older and things aren't where they used to be–helps keep everything in place (sort of).Wonderful warmth in this nutritious soup!

  11. 11

    aline — January 11, 2011 @ 11:49 am Reply

    Thank you for posting such a useful, impressive and a wicked article./Wow.. looking good! Kitchen Garden

  12. 12

    Tasha — January 12, 2011 @ 2:34 am Reply

    I love anything made with butternut or peanut butter and the combination sounds like something amazing. I could easily see this becoming a favorite of mine too!

  13. 13

    Megan Hassen — January 13, 2011 @ 4:30 am Reply

    Wow, what a wonderful combination of ingredients! Can't wait to try it.

  14. 14

    aline — March 28, 2011 @ 8:42 pm Reply

    Thank you for posting such a useful, impressive and a wicked article./Wow.. looking good! Kitchen Garden

  15. 15

    Lizzy — March 28, 2011 @ 8:42 pm Reply

    Cara I love your writing. I love your opening paragraphs and how you relate it to the food you cook. You are so inspiring!! I just made one of your recipes because all of them are so good! I seriously don't know what I would have done if I never found your blog. Healthy, clean eating is impressive. One question- did you ever get your body fat percentage tested before you started lifting? I just got mine calculated and now I want to make strength training more of a priority.

  16. 16

    Barbara — March 28, 2011 @ 8:42 pm Reply

    Stay proud, Cara, and keep up the working out. Makes for stronger bones, good flexibility and staying power!I love the spices you've put in your soup! Unexpected and I bet delicious!

  17. 17

    Kelly — March 28, 2011 @ 8:42 pm Reply

    Love the honesty in this post. I had no idea, but your story is very inspiring. Thanks Cara.

  18. 18

    Dawn — March 28, 2011 @ 8:42 pm Reply

    That would be almost everyone I work with. They are always looking at me rushing off to the gym at lunch like I'm crazy. I bring food for pot lucks but only grab the fruit along with several other "quirks". They can't understand why I'm doing all this when I'm already in good shape. It's so good to know that someone else feels the same way. Is always striving to be better. I definitely agree that all calories are most definitely not created equal. And I'm with you on the lifting weights as well. I'm usually the only girl in the weight room at lunch! And you know me. This soup is right up my alley. Squash and peanut butter. To die for!

  19. 19

    That Girl — March 28, 2011 @ 8:42 pm Reply

    I'm just like you with squash, so I'd have recognized a fabulous recipe even without a fabulous picture. And here.you have both!

  20. 20

    Joanne — March 28, 2011 @ 8:42 pm Reply

    My father is always asking me why I have to always be so health obsessed all the time, as he puts it, but I don't think wanting to have veggie-rich meals makes me obsessed! It just makes me healthy.You are so inspiring Cara, one of the many reasons why I <3 you so much! This soup sounds delicious especially with the extra spice!

  21. 21

    janet — March 28, 2011 @ 8:42 pm Reply

    Cara, you are an inspiration! :) I just picked up long-distance cycling last year and (mentally) signed up for my longest challenge yet – a hilly 356 km over 2 days in June. I know I should be training with weights, too, but only do it once a week. I CAN do better! :)This recipe looks great – I never knew tomato and peanut butter worked so well together until I tried it myself in a similar-style stew (also included some kidney beans and sweet potato instead of squash).Btw, thanks for the tip re: the heat diffuser. I WISH I had a gas stove. Instead I have a glasstop instead, even worse for my new tagine and cast-iron takoyaki pan. :P

  22. 22

    Capitol to Capital — March 28, 2011 @ 8:42 pm Reply

    I've made a similar soup with sweet potato! Delicious. Congrats on all you've accomplished. My mom has been a fitness instructor since I was born, and I'm forever indebted to her for raising me with an addiction to exercise and the knowledge to eat in a happy, healthy, balanced way.Making your Moroccan chicken in the crockpot this week!

  23. 23

    Katie @ Health for the Whole S — March 28, 2011 @ 8:42 pm Reply

    Love the recipe, and love this post. I am a firm believer that self-acceptance doesn't mean that we can't keep striving for something better; indeed, self-acceptance means that we never stop doing just that.

  24. 24

    Table Talk — March 28, 2011 @ 8:50 pm Reply

    What an accomplishment! That's something you should be incredibly proud of. I am a firm believer in including weight training into your exercise plan. Especially as I get older and things aren't where they used to be–helps keep everything in place (sort of).Wonderful warmth in this nutritious soup!

  25. 25

    Megan Hassen — March 29, 2011 @ 2:03 am Reply

    Wow, what a wonderful combination of ingredients! Can't wait to try it.

  26. 26

    aline — March 29, 2011 @ 2:03 am Reply

    Thank you for posting such a useful, impressive and a wicked article./Wow.. looking good! Kitchen Garden

  27. 27

    Barbara — March 29, 2011 @ 2:03 am Reply

    Stay proud, Cara, and keep up the working out. Makes for stronger bones, good flexibility and staying power!I love the spices you've put in your soup! Unexpected and I bet delicious!

  28. 28

    Joanne — March 29, 2011 @ 2:03 am Reply

    My father is always asking me why I have to always be so health obsessed all the time, as he puts it, but I don't think wanting to have veggie-rich meals makes me obsessed! It just makes me healthy.You are so inspiring Cara, one of the many reasons why I <3 you so much! This soup sounds delicious especially with the extra spice!

  29. 29

    Katie @ Health for the Whole S — March 29, 2011 @ 2:03 am Reply

    Love the recipe, and love this post. I am a firm believer that self-acceptance doesn't mean that we can't keep striving for something better; indeed, self-acceptance means that we never stop doing just that.

  30. 30

    morecoffeeplease — March 31, 2011 @ 1:49 am Reply

    Thank-you for this terrific recipe! I reduced the broth to 2 cups and skipped the purée step in order to make a thick and creamy stew instead of a soup. I also cooked the onion in 2 tbsp of peanut oil because I wanted

  31. 31

    morecoffeeplease — April 5, 2011 @ 1:13 am Reply

    Thank-you for this terrific recipe! I reduced the broth to 2 cups and skipped the purée step in order to make a thick and creamy stew instead of a soup. I also cooked the onion in 2 tbsp of peanut oil because I wanted

  32. 32

    Katie @ Health for the Whole S — April 5, 2011 @ 1:13 am Reply

    Love the recipe, and love this post. I am a firm believer that self-acceptance doesn't mean that we can't keep striving for something better; indeed, self-acceptance means that we never stop doing just that.

  33. 33

    Table Talk — April 5, 2011 @ 1:13 am Reply

    What an accomplishment! That's something you should be incredibly proud of. I am a firm believer in including weight training into your exercise plan. Especially as I get older and things aren't where they used to be–helps keep everything in place (sort of).Wonderful warmth in this nutritious soup!

  34. 34

    Katie @ Health for the Whole S — April 5, 2011 @ 1:13 am Reply

    Love the recipe, and love this post. I am a firm believer that self-acceptance doesn't mean that we can't keep striving for something better; indeed, self-acceptance means that we never stop doing just that.

  35. 35

    janet — April 5, 2011 @ 1:13 am Reply

    Cara, you are an inspiration! :) I just picked up long-distance cycling last year and (mentally) signed up for my longest challenge yet – a hilly 356 km over 2 days in June. I know I should be training with weights, too, but only do it once a week. I CAN do better! :)This recipe looks great – I never knew tomato and peanut butter worked so well together until I tried it myself in a similar-style stew (also included some kidney beans and sweet potato instead of squash).Btw, thanks for the tip re: the heat diffuser. I WISH I had a gas stove. Instead I have a glasstop instead, even worse for my new tagine and cast-iron takoyaki pan. :P

  36. 36

    Lizzy — April 5, 2011 @ 1:13 am Reply

    Cara I love your writing. I love your opening paragraphs and how you relate it to the food you cook. You are so inspiring!! I just made one of your recipes because all of them are so good! I seriously don't know what I would have done if I never found your blog. Healthy, clean eating is impressive. One question- did you ever get your body fat percentage tested before you started lifting? I just got mine calculated and now I want to make strength training more of a priority.

  37. 37

    Barbara — April 5, 2011 @ 1:13 am Reply

    Stay proud, Cara, and keep up the working out. Makes for stronger bones, good flexibility and staying power!I love the spices you've put in your soup! Unexpected and I bet delicious!

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