Five Element Recipes

For October, Try Spicy Squash Soup!

Let food be thy medicine, and let medicine be thy food.”

 This famous quote is often attributed to Hippocrates, although there’s no actual proof he ever said it. But whoever did say it was brilliant! Everything we put in our bodies affects us, so not only can we nurture ourselves with food, we can heal and balance ourselves with it, too.

It’s long been known that specific flavors support each of the Five Element energies. This month, we honor the autumnal new yin energy of Metal, the element with the ability to sort and shed what no longer serves. The taste that supports Metal is spicy and there are a multitude of great ways to include this flavor in our lives. But honestly, one of the best is this deliciously healthy and even fat-burning Spicy Squash soup!

Fall is the perfect time for this creamy but light acorn squash soup seasoned with a delicate combination of spices. This soup can serve as lunch, dinner, or a warming side dish. Serve it with toasted bread or a side salad for a great combo. And besides being a wonderfully flavorful soup, it’s loaded with peppers which are bigger superstars than we realized. That’s because peppers contain a nutrient called capsaicin which gives them the spicy hot properties we love so much. But capsaicin has also been shown to speed up metabolism and fight off inflammation. Now we love our peppers even more!

Capsaicin is found in a variety of peppers that each have different levels of the nutrient. Some of the classic favorites are chili, jalapeno, Tabasco, paprika, bell, and habanero peppers (just to name a few). There are plenty of ways to get some of these spicy little peppers into your meals, too, by using powders, sauces, or even in whole form. But regardless of how you incorporate them, you’re sure to get a multitude of health benefits.

 So, roll up your sleeves and get ready to help support your Metal energy this month with this warming, pleasantly spicy squash soup courtesy of!  Bon Appetit!


Spicy Squash Soup


  • 1 large acorn squash, halved and seeds scooped out
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • shallot, finely chopped
  • clove garlic, pressed or minced
  • 1 cup canned pumpkin purée
  • 1 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
  • 1 teaspoon ancho chile powder or regular chile powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • ½ teaspoon dried oregano
  • ¼ teaspoon ground coriander
  • Tiny pinch of ground cloves
  • 3 cups vegetable broth or water
  • Juice from ½ lemon


  • ¼ cup pepitas (green pumpkin seeds)
  • ½ teaspoon olive oil
  • ¼ teaspoon ancho chile powder or regular chile powder
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cumin
  • Pinch of ground coriander
  • Salt to taste


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Place the squash, cut sides down, on the baking sheet and roast for about 30 minutes, or until mostly tender. Let the squash cool for a few minutes, then scoop the flesh into a small bowl and discard the skin. (There might be some bits of squash that aren’t completely cooked, but don’t worry, the rest will cook in the pot with the broth.)
  2. In a medium pot or Dutch oven, warm the oil over medium heat until shimmering. Add the shallot and cook until softened, about 2 minutes. Add the garlic, reserved squash, pumpkin, 1 teaspoon salt, chile powder, cumin, oregano, coriander, and cloves. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes, until the spices are fragrant.
  3. Pour in the vegetable broth or water and lemon juice. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat and cook for about 10 minutes, or until the squash is completely softened.
  4. Using an immersion blender, blend the soup until smooth, about 30 seconds to 1 minute. If you don’t have an immersion blender, blend the soup in a stand blender, in batches (do not fill your blender past the maximum fill line). Securely fasten the blender’s lid and use a kitchen towel to protect your hand from steam escaping from the top of the blender as you purée the mixture until smooth. Transfer puréed soup to a serving bowl and repeat with remaining batches.
  5. Return the soup to the pot and set it over low heat to keep it warm. Taste the soup and add more salt until the spices really sing (likely around ½ teaspoon more for vegetable broth or 1 teaspoon if you used water).
  6. To prepare the garnish: In a small skillet over medium heat, add the pepitas, olive oil, chile powder, cumin, coriander, and a pinch of salt. Toss to combine and toast for 3 to 5 minutes, or until the pepitas’ edges are turning lightly golden brown.
  7. Divide the soup among bowls and drizzle a bit of olive oil on top. Top with a sprinkle of pepita garnish and serve. Yields four servings.

 Nutritional Facts: 128 calories per serving, 7.3 g fat (1.1 g saturated fat), 588 mg sodium, 17.2 g carbs, 3.2 g fiber, 1.2 g sugar, 1.6 g protein (calculated with water and no garnishes)