Healthy fall soups

Saving time during the week with batch cooking and fall food hacks (coring an apple with melon baller, how to cut a butternut squash, and how to peel and prepare sweet potatoes). Denise Ferguson, MCPHD, Manager, Nutrition Services, and Tara Rochford, Dietetics Student, University of Northern Colorado, shares a few tips and tricks, along with their delicious, healthy fall recipes.

  1. We are all busy during the week, so how do you fit in home-cooked meals during the work and school week?

To save time, I dedicate a few hours one day a week to preparing food and meals for the week ahead.  One of my favorite things to do during this time period is batch cook.  Batch cooking is simply making a recipe in a larger portion so that it can be used throughout the week.  I find that batch cooking things like shredded chicken, whole grains and soups or stews really helps save time when getting lunches and dinners together.  One of my favorite seasonal dishes to batch cook is chili!  It is truly a one-pot meal, which saves time on clean up, is flavorful and satisfying, is packed with nutritious produce, and one pot of chili can provide several servings.

  1. How do you recommend cutting and preparing butternut squash? Many winter squashes can be very challenging to cut, and pre-cut squash come with an added cost.

You are absolutely right.  Winter squash are very sturdy and come in many shapes making them intimidating and challenging to prepare.  The way I like to prepare butternut squash is by cutting the end off and scooping the seeds out with an ice cream scoop.  I then have a flat surface to set the squash on while I peel it.  Once the squash is peeled, I take it in small sections.  I’ll cut off the top, then cut the squash in half down the middle.  Then, I have smaller sections to work with making the squash more manageable to handle.

  1. What makes chili a delicious and nutritious option for a fall batch-cooking?

Chili is packed full of ingredients and flavor, which makes hiding a few extra vegetables in the chili really simple!   My recipe uses butternut squash which is full of vitamin A, antioxidants, and potassium beans which are a great source of plant-based protein and fiber, and bell peppers which are high in vitamin C.  It’s satisfying because of the warmth and combination of spices, so even though it is technically a super healthy dish you will not feel deprived.

Butternut Squash Chicken Chili


  • 1 medium butternut squash, seeded and peeled, cubed
  • 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 Tbsp chili powder
  • 1 Tbsp cumin
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • 2 tsp oregano
  • 1 lb ground chicken
  • 2 bell peppers, deseeded and chopped
  • 1 15oz can tomato sauce
  • 2 10 oz cans diced tomatoes with green chilies, with juices
  • 2 cups vegetable or chicken broth/stock
  • 1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • ½ tsp sea salt (or to taste)
  • ¼ tsp black pepper (or to taste)

Serves : 8


  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Toss the butternut squash with 1 Tbsp of olive oil. Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and roast at 400 degrees F for about 25 minutes.
  3. In a large pot, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until fragrant.  Next, add the garlic powder, chili powder, cumin, cinnamon, and oregano.
  4. Add the ground chicken to the pot and sprinkle with a pinch of sea salt. Cook, breaking it into smaller pieces.  When cooked through add the bell peppers, tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, and broth.  Stir and bring to a simmer for about 20 minutes.
  5. Add the black beans, kidney beans and the butternut squash. Bring the chili back to a simmer and cover for 10-15 minutes.
  6. Remove from heat and add salt and pepper.
  7. Serve and enjoy.
  8. If serving at a later date, cover and store in the fridge or place in a freezer zipper top storage bag once cooled.

Nutritional Value:

Calories: 322               Total Fat: 10 g

Protein: 20 g                Sodium: 578 mg

Carbohydrate: 43 g

Pumpkin Chipotle Soup


  • 2 tablespoons salted butter
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 4 cups vegetable stock
  • 1 (29 ounce can) pumpkin puree
  • 2 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, minced
  • 5 cups half-and-half cream
  • 2 tablespoons sofrito
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon paprika

Serves: 8

Serving Size: 1.5 cups


Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Stir in the flour and cook until the flour has turned golden brown, about 3 minutes. Whisk in the vegetable stock and bring to a boil over high heat. Whisk in the pumpkin puree until no lumps remain, then add the chipotle peppers, half-and-half cream, sofrito, Worcestershire sauce, salt, and paprika. Return to a simmer, then reduce heat to medium-low, and cook for 8 minutes until thickened and hot.

Nutritional Value:

Calories: 168               Total Fat: 10 g

Protein: 3 g                  Sodium: 725 mg

Twitter: @Marion_Health