Thursday, October 27, 2011

Nutty Vanilla Butternut Squash & Kale Soup

Last weekend, I bought a bag of kale, an acorn squash, a butternut squash, and a spaghetti squash from Trader Joe’s. I was hoping to prove to myself that I could be overwhelmed with fresh, seasonal vegetables that I don’t usually eat, and find something to do with them anyway. I arrived home from work last night to find both the butternut squash and the spaghetti squash getting a little weird and mushy in spots. It was time to cook them before it would be too late!

The spaghetti squash was easy. I had cooked those before. I halved the squash (which took two knives and a high risk of personal impalement), scooped out the seeds, rubbed it with olive oil, and cooked it cut-side down on a baking sheet for 30 minutes in the oven at 350 degrees. Once the squash itself was in the oven, I cleaned the seeds and popped them in, too. They took about ten minutes to toast.

When the spaghetti squash came out of the oven, I let it cool and then scraped it with a fork into a plastic container. I put it straight in the fridge. I’ll figure out what to do with those gorgeous strands some other time.

Meanwhile, I was making somewhat more complex (but still easy!) Nutty Vanilla Butternut Squash and Kale Soup. The recipe was inspired by this recipe for Nutty Vanilla Sweet Potato and Kale Soup, and the comments on it, which suggested that it was possible to use butternut squash instead of sweet potato. I actually arrived that the recipe via This & That, a blog about cooking produce from the same CSA I just joined!

1 large butternut squash
1 teaspoon of chopped garlic
1 can lite coconut milk
1 cup 1-percent milk
1 tsp allspice
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
4 cups kale, trimmed, washed and torn into small pieces
1 vanilla bean
1/4 cup raisins
1/4 cup unsalted peanuts, for garnish
Shredded coconut, for garnish


Halve the butternut squash, scoop out the seeds, and then cook in the microwave for 15 minutes.

Heat a large pot on medium high. Spray with cooking spray and add squash (scooped out of the skin), cooking until it begins to brown. Stir in garlic.

Add coconut milk, milk, allspice, pepper and flakes.

Bring to a boil, then reduce heat, cover and simmer for 30 minutes.

Mash squash with potato masher or puree with immersion blender.

Add raisins, kale and vanilla and cover. Allow to cook for 8-10 more minutes, until kale is bright green.

Portion into bowls and garnish with 1 tbsp each peanuts and coconut.

The soup turned out fragrant and delicious, and was an excellent use of the butternut squash. My veggie-phobic husband ate his entire bowl (including the kale!) and even sopped up the remaining broth with a piece of bread. This was his first experience with kale, and he declared it “okay.” That’s very high praise from him!

The CSA Virgin really hates to “diagnose” her food. She would prefer to make a recipe, enjoy it, and be done. But, admittedly, there was room for improvement on this otherwise excellent concept. The soup came out a little thick (perhaps because of the substitution of butternut squash for sweet potatoes), so I think I’ll add a little water or vegetable broth to thin it next time. Neither my husband nor I is a big fan of thick, creamy soup.

The original recipe called for garam masala (an Indian spice blend). While I’d like to say that I used allspice because I didn’t have, or couldn’t find, garam masala, that’s not true. CSA Virgin purchased BOTH allspice AND garam masala at Whole Foods, and then grabbed the wrong one when she started to cook. Not a fatal error, but one I might correct next time.

Overall, I think my squash night was successful. I now have two bowls’ worth of Nutty Vanilla Butternut Squash and Kale Soup and an entire squash’s worth of spaghetti in the fridge.

Normally, the fridge is looking a little bare by the end of the work week, but not this week!

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