Cathy Walthers is the author of several healthy eating cookbooks, including Raising the Salad Bar. Her latest, Kale, Glorious Kale (those names!) serves as a tribute to the popular farmers market staple. Texturize this creamy (but creamless) squash soup with crisp roasted kale and savory pumpkin seeds.
The combination of kale and butternut squash is a good one, especially enhanced with apples and a hint of bourbon. I had planned to add some cream, but happily, none was needed. The finishing touch is crispy kale roasted with pumpkin seeds and fresh cranberries, which all gives a crunchy, tart contrast to the smooth, pureed soup.
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1 onion, diced
- 5 cups butternut squash (from 1 medium-sized butternut squash), peeled, seeded and large-diced
- 2 carrots, peeled and cut into rounds (about 1 1/2 cups)
- 1 whole leek (all parts), cut in half lengthwise, rinsed and sliced (a little over 2 cups)
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 teaspoon fresh ginger, finely minced
- 1/3 cup bourbon whiskey
- 5 cups water
- 2 tart apples, peeled, cored and cut in half or into quarters
- 1 - 2 teaspoons kosher salt, divided
- freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 bunch kale, stripped from the stalk, chopped into bite-sized pieces and rinsed (about 3 cups)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1/2 cup pumpkin seeds
- 1/4 cup fresh cranberries
To roast the garnishes:
- Preheat the oven to 350°F.
- Place the pieces of kale on a baking sheet.
- Add the olive oil and knead into the kale.
- Sprinkle with salt and bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until crispy but not browned, stirring a few times.
- When the kale is done, or on another baking sheet, place the pumpkin seeds (seasoned with a pinch or two of salt) and the cranberries, and roast until the seeds are roasted and the cranberries are softened somewhat, 6 to 7 minutes.
For the soup:
- Melt the butter in a soup pot and sauté the onion for about 5 minutes.
- Add the squash, carrots and leek and sauté on medium to medium-high heat for about 10 minutes, stirring often to cook all sides of the squash.
- Add the garlic and ginger and sauté for about 30 additional seconds, until fragrant.
- Turn up the heat a bit and add the bourbon, and let the alcohol cook off, about 1 minute.
- Add the water, apples and 1 teaspoon of the salt, bring to a boil, then lower the heat to a simmer and cook covered for about 20 minutes, or until the squash and carrots are easily pierced with a fork.
- Let cool for 5 or so minutes before blending.
- Process the soup in batches in a blender until smooth and creamy, or use an immersion blender to puree. (Take care when blending a hot soup by filling the container only two-thirds full, placing a kitchen towel over the blender top and blending from low to high speed.)
- If the soup is too thick, add some water to thin it a bit. Taste for seasoning and add more salt by the pinches, until really flavorful. Add a few grinds of pepper.
- Ladle into bowls, and top each with the garnish of about 2 tablespoons of the oven-roasted kale (breaking apart if needed), some of the pumpkin seeds and three or four roasted cranberries. Place any remaining toppings in bowls at the table for people to replenish or munch on.
Instead of a crispy topping, you can braise the kale and add it directly to the soup.
- While soup is cooking, bring 4 cups of water to a boil in a sauté pan with a lid.
- Boil 4 cups of chopped kale for 4 to 5 minutes, until tender. Set aside to cool.
- Once cool, squeeze gently to remove any excess water and break the clumps apart slightly.
- Stir the kale into the creamy, blended butternut soup.
- Ladle into bowls and add a few grinds of pepper.
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