Warm Up With a Bowl of Butternut Squash Soup

It's that time of year: Fall is here and the cool, crisp air makes us long for a warm bowl of soup.

Check out this tasty recipe, which is perfect for the first course of a Thanksgiving Day meal.

 What you need:
* 1 whole butternut squash, large, halved and seeded
* Kosher salt, to taste 
* Freshly-ground pepper, to taste 
* 2 garlic cloves
* 4 sprigs thyme, fresh
* 1 cup chicken stock
* 2 tablespoons pumpkin seeds, fresh, roasted

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Season the squash with salt and pepper and tuck 2 springs of thyme and one garlic clove in each cavity. Place cut side down on the baking sheet and roast until fork tender, about 40 minutes.

2. When the squash is cool enough to handle, discard the thyme, peel the squash, scoop and coarsely chop.

3. Combine the squash, one clove of the garlic and 1/2-cup of the chicken stock in a food processor and puree until smooth. Add the remaining stock gradually until the texture forms a loose puree. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

4. Roast fresh pumpkin seeds until just beginning to brown and garnish before serving.

For a great vegetable dish, eliminate the stock and puree step. Simply scoop the squash from the peel, mash with a fork and season with salt and pepper.

For a vegetarian soup, substitute the chicken stock for vegetable stock.

Serving size: 4

Carol Cottrill is a former actress and agent. In 2001, she received a B.S. degree in holistic nutrition from Clayton College of Natural Health. Carol is a frequent contributor to Dr. Mehmet Oz’s websites, sharecare.com and BodyChecklist.com. She is the author of the upcoming book, "The French Twist: Twelve Secrets of Decadent Dining and Natural Weight Management." Carol divides her time between New York and Florida with her husband and two dogs. Check out her website carolcottrill.com to learn more.