Archive of ‘Soup’ category

Irish Stew Over Mashed Turnips

Traditional Irish Stew is made with white potatoes and mutton or lamb. This version uses turnips and beef and is sure to be a winner at your next St. Patrick’s Day party!

Irish Stew Over Mashed Turnips

St. Patrick’s Day is one of my favorite holidays, especially in Chicago! For me, it marks the moment when I know we’ve made it through winter. Even though we still have quite a few cold days on the horizon (and sometimes even a bit more snow!), spring is just around the corner and warmer days are ahead of us. 

st. patricks day chicago

Dyeing the river green for St. Patrick’s Day in Chicago!

Since white potatoes are a no-no on the Paleo diet, I toyed with the idea of making mashed sweet potatoes to go with this stew. I opted for turnips because I wanted the “look” of mashed potatoes, but if you think mashed turnips and turnips in the stew will be turnip overload, you could sub parsnips for turnips in the stew.

Traditional Irish stew uses mutton or lamb. I’m not a huge fan of lamb so I used stew meat. My grocery store sells stew meat cubed and packaged. If your grocer does not have stew meat, you can use pot roast or chuck roast and cube the beef yourself. 

Happy St. Patrick’s Day! 

Irish Stew Over Mashed Turnips
Traditional Irish Stew is made with white potatoes and mutton or lamb. This version uses turnips and beef and is sure to be a winner at your next St. Patrick’s Day party!
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Stew Ingredients
  1. 2 lbs. stew beef
  2. 2 turnips, cubed
  3. 4 carrots, peeled and chopped
  4. 1 onion, diced
  5. 2 cloves garlic, minced
  6. 1 bag frozen peas
  7. 6 - 8 cups beef broth (use 6 cups for a thicker stew, use 8 cups for a thinner soup-like consistency)
  8. 1 tablespoon ghee (or fat of choice for browning the beef)
Mashed Turnip Ingredients
  1. 2 large turnips, cubed
  2. 1 tablespoon ghee
  3. onion powder
  4. garlic powder
  5. salt and pepper
Directions for the stew
  1. Season your beef with salt and pepper. In a heavy bottom pot over medium-high heat, melt ghee and brown the meat. Note: You'll have to do this in batches. Do not overcrowd your pot or you will end up steaming the beef instead of browning it.
  2. Once the beef is browned, remove it from the pot and place it on a separate plate or bowl.
  3. Add the onions to the pot, stir and cook until they are translucent (about 5 minutes). If your meat was lean, you may have to add a little more ghee for this step.
  4. Add the garlic and cook for about 2 minutes.
  5. Add the beef broth and stir, scraping any brown bits off the bottom of the pan.
  6. Add meat and any juices that have accumulated on the plate back to the pot and bring to a boil.
  7. Add the carrots, turnips, and peas. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 30 minutes.
Directions for the mashed turnips
  1. Bring a pot of water to a boil.
  2. Add turnips and cook until they soften. This should take about 15 minutes, but will depend on the size of your turnip cubes.
  3. Drain and return the turnips to the hot pot.
  4. Add ghee and mash the turnips using a potato masher.
  5. Season to your liking with garlic powder, onion powder, salt, and pepper.
Cucina Kristina http://cucinakristina.com/

Paleo Beef Pho

Paleo Beef Pho | Cucina Kristina | cucinakristina.com

When I made the switch to a Paleo diet, one of the things I missed the most was pho. Pho is a Vietnamese soup made with meat, vegetables, and rice noodles. Did you see the Man vs. Food Nation Super Pho Challenge episode? I am fairly certain I could crush that challenge with zero obstacles. 

As I was typing this recipe up, it dawned on me that you could make the broth beforehand, freeze it, and make this soup during the week in smaller quantities and in about 20 minutes. I don’t know why I didn’t think of that sooner! The next time I make this, I will have to remember that.

This is a copycat recipe that was inspired by the beef noodle soup from Penny’s Noodles in Chicago. When I was in graduate school, I used to pick this soup up on my way home from class and it was always so hard not to tear into the bag and eat it immediately! I like to eat this soup alongside a crisp, cold, cucumber salad. 

You’ll notice this recipe calls for star anise. Personally, I think that is a key flavor in this dish and should not be omitted. Star anise has a licorice flavor and adds a good layer of flavor to the broth. You can buy star anise online here if you cannot find it in your local grocery store.

My grocery store sells packaged chop suey meat. If your grocery does not sell chop suey beef, you can use stew beef. You’ll need to cut the stew beef into very small pieces before you cook it.

Paleo Beef Pho
Serves 4
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Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
2 hr 30 min
Total Time
3 hr
Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
2 hr 30 min
Total Time
3 hr
Ingredients
  1. 1 star anise
  2. 6 whole cloves
  3. 1 whole cinnamon stick
  4. 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  5. 1 inch piece of fresh ginger, minced
  6. 1 shallot, minced
  7. 1 teaspoon ground cardamom
  8. 1 lb. chop suey meat
  9. 8 ounces mushrooms, quartered
  10. 1 small head of broccoli, chopped
  11. 4 stalks of kale, chopped
  12. 1 tablespoon chili paste (2 tablespoons if you want an extra kick)
  13. 1 tablespoon coconut oil
  14. 6 cups vegetable broth
Garnishes
  1. Thinly sliced radish
  2. Lime
  3. Cilantro
  4. Green onion
  5. Bean sprouts (not strict Paleo)
For the broth
  1. In a pan over medium heat, toast the cloves, star anise, and cinnamon until fragrant to open the flavors. This should take about 5 minutes. Remove the spices from the pan so they do not burn and set aside. (See note).
  2. In a large pot over medium heat, sauté the shallot, garlic, and ginger in the coconut oil for 3-5 minutes. Stir constantly so the garlic does not burn.
  3. Add vegetable broth and spices and bring to a boil. Cover the pot, reduce the heat, and simmer for 2 hours.
For the soup
  1. Fish the whole spices out of the broth. Add the beef and bring the soup to a boil.
  2. Reduce the heat and add the mushrooms, broccoli, and kale. Simmer for an additional 20 minutes.
  3. Add the chili paste. Stir, taste and adjust the seasoning. If the soup is tasting a bit flat, add a teaspoon of sea salt to bring out the flavors.
  4. Serve with any or all of the garnishes above!
Notes
  1. I use ground cardamom in this recipe because I did not have whole cardamom. Ground spices burn quickly; therefore, I do not toast the cardamom. I just add it right to the broth in step 3.
Cucina Kristina http://cucinakristina.com/

One Pot Meal: Pot Roast Stew

I am crazy for one pot meals, especially during the colder winter months. I love starting a meal after lunch and letting it cook slowly over a low heat until dinnertime. This process is called braising or stewing depending on whether you use large or small cuts of beef. Both methods begin with tougher cuts of beef and the long cooking time helps break down the muscle fibers leaving you with meat that “falls off the bone.”

Today, I’m going to share one of my favorite winter recipes, pot roast stew. This is not one of those recipes that you can’t simply whip up after a long day at the office, but it is one that you can make a ton of on a Sunday and reheat throughout the week. You mustn’t rush the cooking time with this or you will end up with mushy veggies and tough beef. Nobody wants that.

One Pot Meals - Pot Roast Beef Stew

Don’t be deterred by the cook time for this recipe. Three hours is a long time, but I promise it will be worth it in the end! As this is cooking you will start to pick up all of the different smells in this dish. The first time you walk by your kitchen, it will smell intensely of garlic. Then, you’ll get a whiff of rosemary and you’ll want to lift the lid and peek inside because you know something magical is happening in there. Be patient. 

I use chuck roast for this recipe, which is the cut of beef that is used for pot roast. My grocery store happens to sell packages of cubed chuck roast labeled as stew beef, but you could always buy a full-sized pot roast and cube the meat yourself. 

The white cubes that look like potatoes in the photo above are actually turnips and parsnips. I omitted traditional white potatoes to make this recipe Paleo-friendly and, to be honest, I probably won’t make this recipe using potatoes ever again. The parsnip and turnip add a deep layer of flavor to the broth, and when it comes to flavor, white potatoes miss the mark!

Pot Roast Stew
Serves 6
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Prep Time
30 min
Cook Time
2 hr
Total Time
3 hr
Prep Time
30 min
Cook Time
2 hr
Total Time
3 hr
Ingredients
  1. 2 lbs. stew beef
  2. 1 shallot, minced
  3. 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  4. 1 parsnip, chopped
  5. 1 turnip, chopped
  6. 3 celery stalks, chopped
  7. 4 carrots, chopped
  8. 1 8 oz. box of mushrooms, chopped in half
  9. 2 tablespoons ghee (clarified butter)
  10. 1 heaping teaspoon sweet paprika
  11. 4 sprigs fresh thyme
  12. 2 sprigs fresh rosemary
  13. 1 bay leaf
  14. 2 beef bullion cubes
  15. 8 cups water
  16. Salt and pepper
Instructions
  1. In a heavy-bottom pot, melt the ghee over medium heat and brown the beef. You will have to do this in shifts so as to not overcrowd the pot. Overcrowding will cause the beef to steam rather than brown. When the beef is browned on all sides, remove it and set aside.
  2. Lower the heat and wait about 10 minutes for the temperature of the pot drop (you do not want to burn your garlic in the next step!).
  3. Add the shallots and garlic to the pot and cook until the shallots caramelize, about 7 minutes. Stir often.
  4. Return the beef back to the pot and add 8 cups of water, paprika, bay leaf, rosemary sprigs, thyme sprigs, and beef bullion cubes. Bring to a boil then reduce the heat, cover, and simmer over low heat for 90 minutes.
  5. Add the parsnip, turnip, celery, carrots, and mushrooms, cover, and continue to simmer for at least 30 more minutes.
  6. Add salt and pepper to taste. Garnish with fresh thyme. Serve warm.
Notes
  1. You can substitute butter for ghee, but then this stew will not be Paleo. To keep it Paleo, you can substitute bacon fat or olive oil to brown the beef.
Cucina Kristina http://cucinakristina.com/

Chunky Chicken Soup

Good Morning!

I apologize for being off the radar for a while. I have been traveling, battling the flu, and getting back into the swing of school. I have a very tough quarter ahead of me preparing for student teaching, but I am so incredibly excited! For those of you that don’t know, I am a full-time Graduate student working towards my M.Ed in Elementary Education. When I graduate, I will also have endorsements in English Language Arts, Social Studies, and (hopefully) Art. Since my school does not have a film program, I have to work with the state of Illinois to see if they will count my film and photography undergraduate classes towards and art endorsement. When I graduate, I hope to be a middle school English/Social Studies teacher. I love middle school aged kids, I can’t wait to work with them.

For my student teaching, I have been placed in a Kindergarten classroom, which I am really excited about. When I am observing in upper grade classrooms, I tend to see the following pattern a lot. The teacher teaches a lesson, students to an activity, students are told if they finish early they can read silently at their desks or work on an unfinished assignment. Now there is nothing necessarily wrong with this pattern, but this type of structure wouldn’t work in a kindergarten classroom because not all kindergarteners can read. Many kindergarteners can’t work independently either. Many still need a ton of guided instruction. Therefore, I will have to design lessons and activities that take the entire lesson time. It is both intimidating and exciting. I honestly feel like I am going to learn so much about classroom management and lesson planning in this classroom!

Wait. Isn’t this post called Chunky Chicken Soup? You’re right. It is!

It seems like everyone I know came down with or is coming down with the flu. The most popular home remedy for the flu is chicken soup. I love soup! It’s quick to make, easy, inexpensive, and comforting.

I have to be honest with you. The recipe below is my best guess as to how I made this. I rarely tend to measure when I am making soup. I will be better about that in 2013!

Chunky Chicken Soup
Serves 4

This can be made with or without gluten-free pasta. Oyster crackers are not gluten-free so do not serve with them if you are avoiding gluten.

This can be made with or without gluten-free pasta. Oyster crackers are not gluten-free so do not serve with them if you are avoiding gluten.

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups gluten-free, brown rice pasta (I used Trader Joe’s brand)
  • 2 chicken breasts, cooked and shredded*
  • 3-4 stalks of celery, sliced
  • 3-4 carrots, sliced
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1-2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 scant tablespoon dried oregano
  • 1 packet chicken bullion
  • Olive oil
  • 6-8 cups water (use and adjust according to how chunky you want your end product to be)

*You can cook and shred the chicken yourself or buy pre-cooked chicken and shred it yourself. You can also buy pre-cooked chicken and cube it. Either way, make sure your chicken is pre-cooked as this saves a ton of time.

Directions:

  1. In a large pot over medium heat, cook onions and carrots until onions are translucent.
  2. Add garlic and celery, stir, and cook for another 3-4 minutes.
  3. Add water (start with 6 cups and add more if you think you need it), bullion packet, and oregano and bring to a boil.
  4. Reduce heat and add chicken and pasta. Cook for about 6-8 minutes or until pasta is cooked through.

You can serve with bread or oyster crackers if you are not gluten-free or enjoy as is!

I hope everyone is having a happy 2013 so far! We will return to our regularly scheduled blogging next week. :)

Easy Chunky Chicken Tortilla Soup

It’s soup season! I love soup for a couple of reasons. First and foremost, I love it because you can make a ton of it for practically nothing. Second, I love it because it is quick and easy to throw together, very filling, and low in fat and calories. My favorite soup on the planet is tortilla soup. I make it with shredded chicken because my husband acts like I am trying to kill him every time I serve him something without meat, but you can make this vegetarian easily by omitting the chicken and substituting vegetable broth. This soup is so chunky and packed with flavor that you will not miss the absence of meat if you opt to omit the chicken. Sometimes I make the vegetarian version and lie to my husband; telling him there is meat in it. He is usually on his second bowl before he even realizes it!

If you are using chicken, I find it is best in this soup when it is shredded. If I have planned ahead, I cook the chicken breasts in a slow cooker overnight. Then, I let them cool in the fridge all day and shred right before making the soup. When you cook the breasts in a slow cooker, they practically fall apart in your hands. It takes almost no effort to shred them. I have a little slow cooker that I got at Target for $12 that fits 2 chicken breasts perfectly. It is similar to this one. If you do not have a slow cooker, you can boil the chicken breasts for about 25 minutes (or until cooked through), let them cool, and shred them. You can also buy a pre-cooked rotisserie chicken from the grocery store, shred the breasts, and eat the legs and wings another night.

Easy Chunky Chicken Tortilla Soup

Cucina Kristina: Chunky Chicken Tortilla Soup

Note: I didn’t have black beans the night
I shot this photo, but I usually use them

Ingredients:

  • 2 chicken breasts, shredded
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • 1 15-ounce can hominy, not drained
  • 1 15-ounce can black beans, drained & rinsed
  • 1/2 package of frozen corn
  • 1 15-ounce can chopped tomatoes
  • 2 chicken or vegetable bullion cubes
  • 2 tablespoons oregano
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Handful of cilantro, minced
  • Juice of fresh lime – at least 1 or to taste. I usually use 2 because I like lime
  • 1 tablespoon chili paste (optional)
  • 6-8 cups of water
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Toppings (optional): 

  • Sliced radish
  • Sour cream
  • Chopped lettuce
  • Shredded cheese
  • Avocado
  • Sliced green onion
  • Baked tortilla chips (recipe to follow)

Directions:

  1. In a large pot, cook onions and garlic in olive oil for 3-5 minutes.
  2. Add one 15-ounce can of hominy, liquid and all. Add black beans, corn, tomatoes, bullion cubes, chicken, oregano, and bay leaf. Add as much water as needed to get the desired soup thickness and consistency.
  3. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes to let flavors meld together.
  4. Just before serving, stir in cilantro and squeeze the juice of one lime into the soup.
  5. If using, add 1 tablespoon of chili paste and season with salt and pepper.
  6. Serve as is or garnish with any or all of the toppings above. Don’t forget to remove the bay leaf!

Baked Tortilla Chips:

I use El Milagro corn tortillas exclusively. You can use whatever brand you like, but I would suggest only using tortillas that contain stone ground corn, water and lime. That’s it. Three ingredients. Nothing else. Trust me!

  1. Cut tortillas into wedges. I usually get six wedges out of each tortilla.
  2. Line tortillas on a baking sheet.
  3. Bake in a 350˚ oven for 12-15 minutes.

I do not flavor the chips at all because I like them in their natural state. If you’d like to add salt or seasoning to them, do so before baking them. Simply spray them with olive oil and sprinkle desired seasonings.

I have an oil mister. If you do not have one of these, you can put a little bit of olive oil into a dish and lightly spread onto the chips with your finger. You might be able to use cooking spray; however, I have not tried this. If you use cooking spray a lot, I highly recommend getting an oil mister! I picked mine up at TJ Max for $5. It’s a great way to control the amount of oil you are putting into things without all of the additives that are present in cooking spray.

Cucina Kristina: Baked Corn Tortilla Chips

Corn tortilla chips about to hit the oven!

These chips are gluten-free and there are only 50 calories for every six chips. These are so easy and better for you than any store-bought brand. I can’t remember the last time I bought chips at the store.

Curried Acorn Squash and Red Lentil Soup with Spiced Acorn Squash Seeds

Are there any curry lovers out there? I am dying to share this recipe with someone because it is hearty, comforting, and oh so tasty. It’s the type of soup that warms you from the inside out. I threw it together on a whim last night and apparently nobody in my life likes curry!  More for me, right?

Before we get to the recipe, I want to share a couple of notes about this soup and some substitution ideas. First, I used an acorn squash because it is what I had on hand. If you are new to using squash and do not have good knife skills, substitute with a butternut squash. The butternut squash is infinitely easier to peel and has a similar taste. If squash is not your thing, substitute with sweet potatoes. If neither squash nor sweet potatoes are your thing, try my chicken tortilla soup.

Second, this soup has an intense curry flavor. If you like curry, but you do not love curry, cut back to 1 teaspoon and use vegetable broth and water as the base instead of just straight water. As the soup is cooking, taste and add more curry as desired. Remember that it is easier to add more of an ingredient than to try to balance it out after the fact.

Third, do not throw out the squash seeds! The seeds are edible just like pumpkin seeds. For some reason, people do not think about toasting the seeds of other squashes, but they make a wonderful soup garnish or can be used on salads or as an on-the-go snack. I flavored my seeds with salt and Chinese five spice, but you can use anything you like to season your seeds. Some spices that compliment curry are cinnamon, ginger, chili powder, cumin, or cloves.

Now, on to the soup! This is the type of soup that you will want to make on a chilly winter day. The mere smell of curry warms my body as it seeps throughout the house. I almost can’t wait for the first real snowfall so I can make it again. This soup would be a great starter to a Thanksgiving meal even though the flavors are not necessarily traditional. By the way, how is Thanksgiving THIS Thursday? Where does the time go?

Just before serving, I added a tablespoon of chili paste. I use Huey Fong, which is the same company that makes Sriracha (aka rooster sauce). I think the chili paste adds a nice layer of heat to this soup. For you spicy food haters, I would not describe the flavor chili paste adds to this soup as spicy at all. It is not going to burn your mouth and make your eyes water, it just adds a little kick and enhances the overall flavor of this soup. Give it a try! If you are nervous about adding chili paste to the entire pot of soup, you can always put it on the table and have guests add it to their individual bowls as desired.

Curried Acorn Squash and Red Lentil Soup

Cucina Kristina | Curried Acorn Squash and Red Lentil Soup with Spiced Acorn Squash Seeds

Warms you from the inside out!

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and minced
  • 1 acorn squash, peeled and cubed (see substitution ideas above)
  • 3 carrots
  • 1 cup red lentils
  • 1 tablespoon curry powder (see substitution ideas above)
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 tablespoon chili paste (optional)
  • 1 1/2 quarts water

Directions:

  1. In a large pot, cook onions and garlic in melted coconut oil, stirring frequently for about 5 minutes.
  2. Add ginger and cook for another 3 minutes.
  3. Add carrots and squash and cook for 5-7 minutes, stirring frequently.
  4. Add the curry and cumin and cook for about a minute. This will toast the spices and open their flavor.
  5. Add water and lentils and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and let simmer for 20-25 minutes or until lentils are cooked through and vegetables are tender.
  6. If using, add 1 tablespoon of chili paste just before serving.
  7. Serve warm and garnish with spiced acorn squash seeds.

Spiced Acorn Squash Seeds

Ingredients:

  • Coconut oil
  • Chinese five spice (see substitution ideas above)
  • Salt

Directions:

  1. Rinse and dry the seeds from 1 acorn squash.
  2. Melt coconut oil in a small bowl and toss the seeds to coat evenly. If you do not have coconut oil, you can use olive oil.
  3. Add 1 generous pinch of Chinese five spice and toss to evenly distribute.
  4. Spread seeds onto a baking sheet lined with foil and sprinkle with salt to taste.
  5. Roast in a 375˚ oven for about 12 minutes. All ovens vary so you will want to watch the seeds and check on them periodically. They are done when they look toasted and golden brown.

I’m Alive (Barely!) and Butternut Squash & Pear Soup

Phew! I just finished my first quarter of Grad school and I feel lucky to be alive. Ok, it wasn’t that bad, it was just more time-consuming than I ever could have imagined. The past three months have given me a whole new perspective of the phrase “trying to keep my head above water.” Needless to say, I have reverted back to the old college diet for the last few months. You may be familiar with it if you gained the “Freshman 15″ when you were in college. It consists mainly of Pop Tarts, frozen pizzas, and take-out. It is disgusting, and I am looking forward to getting back on track during my holiday break.

Speaking of holidays, I have been charged with making a few sides for Thanksgiving that I will share with you in the next week or so. I’ll be making cranberry sauce, glazed carrots, burssels sprouts (don’t hate!), and stuffing. Some people think it is a sin to make stuffing from a box, but I think Stovetop rocks and I’ll share a few ideas for sprucing it up a bit.

In addition to all of the holiday classics, I love seasonal food this time of year. It is so comforting, warm, and hearty. My favorite fall/holiday food is squash. I love all types of squash–acorn squash, butternut squash, spaghetti squash, you name it. If it’s a squash, I want to roast it and eat it. I especially want to toast the seeds. We are all familiar with toasting pumpkin seeds at Halloween, right? Well, you can toast any squash seeds the same way you toast pumpkin seeds. Just toss them in a little olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Roast them on a baking sheet for 10-12 minutes at 325 degrees. Do this with the butternut squash seeds from the recipe below and garnish the soup or enjoy them as a snack.

I love making soup during the colder months for a few reasons. First, it’s easy. Second, it’s cheap. Soup is a great way to stretch your grocery budget, especially around the holidays when everyone is strapped for cash. I particularly love this soup because the squash makes for a ticker, bisque-like consistency, which definitely fills you up more than a broth based soup. And finally, because you can get a few meals out of very little ingredients.

Butternut Squash & Bartlett Pear Soup
Recipe from Vegetarian Times
Issue: November 1, 2009 
Serves 6

The toasted seeds are key to taking this soup from good to fantastic!

Ingredients

  • 3 Tbs. olive oil
  • 2 medium leeks, white and tender green parts finely chopped
  • 1 small butternut squash, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces (save the seeds for toasting!)
  • 3 Bartlett pears, peeled, cored, and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 5 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
  • 1 14-oz. can light coconut milk
  • 1 tsp. chopped fresh thyme (you can substitute about 1/2 tsp. dried thyme, maybe a little less)

Directions

  • Heat oil in saucepan over medium-low heat. Add leeks, and cook 10 minutes, or until soft, stirring often.
  • Add squash and pears, and sauté 5 minutes.
  • Stir in vegetable broth, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer 20 minutes, or until squash is fork-tender.
  • Remove from heat, and stir in coconut milk. Purée soup in batches in food processor or use immersion blender in saucepan; blend until smooth.
  • Return soup to saucepan, and stir in thyme. Reheat over medium-low heat 2 to 3 minutes, or until warmed through. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  • Serve garnished with toasted butternut squash seeds, if desired.