Meatless Monday: Bourbon Apple Butternut Soup with Roasted Kale

September 29, 2014

Bourbon apple butternut squash soup with roasted kale and pumpkin seeds from Kale, Glorious Kale by Catherine Walthers has all the flavors of fall in one bowl.  Warm, comforting and inviting, this seasonal soup is an easy and healthy meal for any night of the week.  Sweet butternut squash and tart apples form the base of the soup while the whiskey rounds out the flavors and give it a kick.  This soup is almost vegan except for the butter so feel free to substitute with another fat like coconut oil or olive oil.  Also, to add an extra creamy touch, mix in a 1/4 cup of cream or coconut cream.

Bourbon Apple Butternut Soup with Roasted Kale 

The combination of kale and butternut 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 peeled, seeded, and diced butternut squash (large dice) (from 1 medium-size butternut squash)
2 carrots, peeled and cut into rounds (about 1½ cups)
1 whole leek, all parts, cut in half lengthwise, rinsed and sliced (a little over 2 cups)
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon finely minced fresh ginger
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 stalk, chopped into bite-size pieces and rinsed (about 3 cups)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 cup pumpkin seeds
1/4 cup fresh cranberries

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.

Preheat the oven to 350°F while the soup is cooking, and roast the kale. Place the pieces of kale on the 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.

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.

Variation: 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 and 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.

Excerpted from Kale, Glorious Kale © 2014 by Catherine Walthers. Photos © Alison Shaw. Reproduced by permission of Countryman Press, a division of W.W. Norton & Company, Inc. All rights reserved.

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