One of my dearest friends cooks, bakes, and grills like a professional chef.  She loves to chop vegetables, says things like “ramekins” and has her own tablecloth named after her—The Christine—for purchase at The Palate in Stockholm, WI:  Preparing food has been her passion since before my husband and I met Christine and her husband, Mark, over 15 years ago.  It has been our good fortune to be the lucky recipients of many delicious meals and absolutely wonderful times in their home.  Since I am all about following our passion, this is my way of letting her have an outlet for hers.  Enjoy!

This winter, as the cold and flu season comes into full swing, put good foods in your body to nurture seasonal health. Nutrient types and levels vary in foods that grow each season and your body knows how to use each food for strength and immunity. By eating healthy, whole foods that are grown organically and in season, you are feeding your body the highest amount and most necessary nutrients. Food types vary with the seasons for good reason and eating a variety of in season foods will bring great benefits. In the fall and early winter, pumpkins, squash, carrots, beets, and dark leafy greens line the market shelves. Right now, the bounty of these foods will bring you large amounts of vitamin A, vitamin C, beta-carotene and antioxidants.  Pumpkins and squash help your body clear out excess mucus that can develop during the cold season and help improve circulation that can be constricted by the cold weather. Here is a great soup (from my friend, Christine), that will please your taste buds and fortify your health this winter.

Butternut Squash Soup

1 medium to large squash (either acorn or butternut)

8 cloves garlic unpeeled

4 leaves of fresh sage

3 Tbsp olive oil

1 shallot

3-4 cups of chicken broth

Turn oven on to 350

Cut squash in half and remove seeds. Rub olive oil on cut side of squash. Place 4 cloves of garlic under each piece of squash on a baking sheet.  Cover squash with aluminum foil and bake for 45-60 minutes until squash is very soft when pierced with sharp knife.

Remove squash from oven and let cool until you can touch.

Sauté shallot in olive oil until soft, about 8 minutes.

Squeeze garlic out of its peel and add to shallots

Add squash to pan with garlic and shallot.  Stir until well mixed.

Add chicken stock and cook soup for 30 minutes on low heat.

Let cool.  Use an immersion blender or add soup to blender and blend until smooth.

Reheat if necessary.  Serve with Crème Fraiche or sour cream.