Spiced Butternut Squash Soup

September is one of my favorite months of the entire year. Not only because my birthday lands in the lovely month, but because of all of the great changes it brings with it...Cooler temps (especially for us here in Dallas where we had a record breaking hot summer), changing leaves, football, fall fashion, AND the best seasonal produce you'll find in your grocery, like the winter squash family! Eating what's in season is important because not only is going to be local, fresher and taste better, it's also less expensive because there's a lot of it being harvested! Butternut squash is a somewhat sweet, delicious fall and winter vegetable (well, it's actually a fruit since it has seeds), and there are tons of different ways to enjoy it!

When choosing your butternut squash, pick one that is heavy for it's size, nice and dense, and firm and has a vibrant color but dull, not glossy rind.

This fall/winter squash has a much longer shelf life than it's cousin, summer squash. It usually can be kept from one week to six months, and is in season from about August through March.

Butternut squash (and most all winter squash) is an excellent source of vitamin A. It is also a very good source of vitamin C, potassium, dietary fiber, and manganese. In addition, it's a good source of folate, omega-3 fatty acids, thiamin, copper, vitamin B5, vitamin B6, niacin and copper. It's has been found to have anti-cancer type effects. Thank heaven for this delicious and nutritious treat!

Here's my tasty butternut squash soup recipe that will be sure to soothe your heart, body and soul during the cooler months.

Spiced Butternut Squash Soup
Recipe by Lindsey Crouch

Yield: 8-10 servings (about 1 cup soup)

1 tablespoon butter spread (Earth Balance, soy free)
2 pounds butternut squash cubed & peeled (about 1 large, dense squash)
2 chopped organic carrots
1 chopped organic sweet onion
2 minced medium garlic cloves
1 minced medium shallot
4 cups (approx) less-sodium, organic chicken broth (enough to cover veggies)
1/4 cup almond milk
2 tablespoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon cayenne
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 cup chopped pecan halves

Melt butter in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add squash, carrot, onion, garlic, and shallot; saute' for 12 minutes or until veggies are soft. Add chicken broth and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes. Remove from heat, stir in almond milk, cinnamon, nutmeg, cayenne and salt. blend until smooth. (Adjust seasoning according to taste). Serve warm. Top with pecans and enjoy!

Bon Appetit!