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Managing Holiday Stress for Seniors with a Single Soup Recipe

Happy Thanksgiving from all of us at Reneu Health, we know how stressful the season can be for seniors, caregivers and their family members. We are thankful today for our friend Ashley Look at How to Feed a Senior for introducing us to a wonderfully warm, nutritious and delicious way to ring in the start of the season; Butternut Squash Soup!

Ashley Look is the creator of How to Feed a Senior, and through her Blog, Facebook and Instagram accounts, she provides recipes and nutrition tips, as well as meditations on loss, grieving, and the process of “carving” out a meaningful life in circumstances you would have never chosen for yourself. It’s the result of an unexpected transition into full-time caregiving for her parents, both whom have suffered neurodegenerative disorders. She received her chef certification in 2011 from the Nutrition Therapy Institute in Denver, CO. She also has a B.S. in Human Development and Learning and a M.A. in Central and Eastern European Studies with a concentration in Social Transformation.

Holiday festivities loom in the air which means menu making is a top priority. Unfortunately, it also means holiday stress may pay an unwelcome visit. Luckily, a bit of preparation can help curb anxiety and any hunger pains that might crowd your kitchen with unwanted visitors. Catering to our loved ones can be an act of great joy, especially when we have the time and space to execute each dish to our culinary standard. However, nothing is more frustrating than a good intention that poorly accomplished. Well, this Thanksgiving we are here to help with some preplanning for Turkey’s big day!

Assuming the kitchen is command central for all things Thanksgiving, the last thing you need is idle visitors in the midst of your epic venture. A full schedule of cooking means there’s little time to accommodate the hunger needs of others so it’s best to prepare a festive dish in advance to help tide folks over. This butternut squash soup is a bowl of comfort, embracing the seasonal spirit yet includes just enough flair to pacify any attending gourmands. It can be served basic or gussied up with personalized accoutrements for a customized lunch. It’s also a nourishing dish that crosses the generational spectrum enabling babies, seniors, and everyone in between to share in a single dish. Perhaps most importantly is that it’s easily kept warm in a crock pot. The soup can be prepared in advance and kept in the refrigerator until the morning of Thanksgiving. Then, just toss it in a crock-pot and set it to low for a few hours to heat. As guests get hungry, they can serve themselves a bowl and top it at their discretion. This can help keep mouths fed and bodies out of your work space, granting you the freedom to carry on in all your holiday glory. Furthermore, it is loaded with healthy ingredients so you can rest assured that nutrition has a starring role before the pies roll out later in the day.


  • 1 tbsp oil

  • 1 butternut squash peeled, seeded and cubed into 1/2 inch pieces (about 3 cups total)

  • 1 onion chopped

  • 3 garlic cloves chopped

  • 1 tbsp of fresh ginger

  • 1 tsp curry powder

  • 1 tsp turmeric

  • 1/2 can of unsweetened coconut milk

  • 2 tbsp of plain yogurt

  • Splash of half and half

  • 1 tbsp fresh cilantro*

  • Some chopped cashews for topping*


  1. Sauté the onion in a pot with oil over medium heat until soft

  2. Add the garlic and fresh ginger and cook for another minute or so

  3. Add the turmeric and the curry powder and mix well

  4. As the spices start to stick to the bottom, add a little broth and deglaze the bottom of the pot bringing up all those caramelized bits which will enrich the final flavor of the soup.

  5. After deglazing you can add in the rest of the broth and the squash

  6. Bring it up to a boil then reduce the heat and allow to simmer for about 10 or 15 minutes uncovered until the squash is tender

  7. Remove from heat and allow to the soup to cool slightly and then mix in the coconut milk. (If you have an immersion blender use that to puree the soup. If using a regular blender puree in batches but wait for the soup to cool first).

  8. When the soup is smooth, warm it back up, but be careful not to boil it because the coconut milk can curdle. Ladle into a bowl.

  9. In a separate bowl, mix the yogurt and a little cream or left over coconut milk and make a thin finishing sauce. Stir a spoonful into your soup and top with fresh cilantro and cashews.

*Feel free to have creative license when it comes to toppings. You have lots of freedom here.

**This recipe was originally posted on in November 2015 by Ashley Look.

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