Combat the winter chill with a soup that’s both nourishing and delicious.

Vail Cascade Resort & Spa in Colorado

When the mercury dips, what could be better than to follow a restorative spa treatment with a soup that’s not just soothing and delicious but also crammed with vitamins and nutrients?

That was the reasoning behind this signature recipe from the Vail Cascade Resort & Spa in Colorado. Located at the foot of Vail Mountain, and boasting fireplaces and hot tubs, the retreat really comes into its own in winter.

The dish stars butternut squash, a versatile variety of the gourd family that’s similar to pumpkin in color, consistency and culinary usage. Widely considered a super food, butternut squash contains high levels of beta carotene, which is converted by the body to vitamin A (vital for healthy skin and eyesight), and vitamin B6 to support the nervous and immune systems. It’s also low in fat and high in fiber. With so many health benefits, there’s not much this squash can’t squash!

Not surprisingly, the soup is one of the most popular items on the menu at the resort’s Atwater on Gore Creek restaurant. Although butternut squash’s peak season lasts from early fall through winter, guests love to order it at any time of year. “It’s healthier than a cream-based soup, and while it’s a hearty dish, we keep it on the menu even in summer,” reports executive chef Todd Bemis.

Tasty, nutrient-packed and—thanks to mirin, garlic and jalapeño—a little off the wall: no wonder this soup creates such a splash!

Butternut Squash Soup

Serves 6-10

1 butternut squash, halved and deseeded
1 29-oz. can pumpkin purée
1 13.5-oz. can coconut milk
3 cloves garlic
1 jalapeño, deseeded and chopped
1 Tbsp. chopped ginger
¼ cup chopped garlic
1 yellow onion, diced
4 oz. mirin (Japanese rice wine)
2 cups water
3 limes, zested and juiced

Roast butternut squash in a 350°F oven for 25 to 30 minutes. Let cool before scraping out and reserving the pulp. Next, sweat onion, jalapeño, garlic and ginger in a pan over a medium-to-high heat until softened. Add squash pulp and simmer for 5 to 10 minutes. Add mirin, coconut milk, pumpkin purée and water, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and add lime zest and juice. Remove from heat, mix with an immersion blender (you may use an upright blender, but exercise caution) and strain thoroughly. Season to taste, garnish with chopped avocado and serve.

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