I'm not sure what to call this soup. Sure, it has kale, sweet potato, and beans in it, but it's the squash-flavored broth that really makes it outstanding. It looks like a lot of extra work, and it kind of is (though really, it's not too bad). But believe me, this makes the most AWESOME tasting broth ever...kind of sweet and rich and delicious.
This soup is also easily adaptable to a vegan recipe. I'll include notes if anyone wants to make it vegan.
This is also just the basic recipe--feel free to add other vegetables. I usually throw in whatever other root veggies are in the house, like carrots or parsnips. You could play around with what type of greens you use instead of kale. You can swap out different types of beans. Basically, this is an easily-customizable recipe. I'm just giving you my favorite version :)
This will make a big pot of soup. I like to make a big batch, and then just freeze the leftovers. But if you're unsure about this recipe, or don't like leftovers, you'll probably want to half this recipe.
Approximately 3 lbs winter squash (any kind is okay--I've made it with delicata squash, and a combo of butternut, delicata, and dumpling squash. Feel free to experiment! Also, you're just going to puree this into the broth for flavor, so it's fine to use more or less squash. Just use what you've got!)
1 large apple, peeled and coarsely diced
1 large onion, peeled and coarsely diced
3 cloves garlic, crushed
Olive oil for drizzling (I don't know, maybe 2 tablespoons approximately)
Honey for drizzling (again, about 2 tablespoons) (Omit honey if you're making a vegan recipe. I've made this without the honey--the resulting soup still has that sweetness from the squash and sweet potatoes. I just like the faint smoky-depth you get from honey!)
12 cups stock (I like turkey stock for this, though clearly use veggie stock if you want to make vegan soup :)
1 large or 2 medium sweet potatoes
2 cans of cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
1 bunch kale, stems removed and leaves torn into bite sized pieces
1 teaspoon sage
Pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Cut the squash in half and discard seeds. Place the squash cut side up on a baking tray. Place the diced apples, onions and crushed garlic into the cups in the squash where the seeds were. Drizzle with olive oil and honey. Roast until squash is fork-tender, about 45 minutes (it will really depend on how thick your squash is, so just keep checking). Remove from oven and let cool.
Once the squash is cool enough to touch, scoop the onions, apples, garlic, and squash flesh into a large pot. Add 4 cups of stock. Simmer for 30 or 45 minutes, until everything is pretty soft.
Turn off the heat and let cool for 15 minutes or so. This is important--danger, danger! The next step is to blend this up and the soup can splash and burn you. If you make this often, I know one day you'll say "oh, I won't burn myself. I'm not going to wait." Then it'll splash and hit you and burn. I know, I speak from experience! Okay, warning over, back to the recipe. Using an immersion (stick) blender, blend the soup until it's smooth. Feel free to add more broth if the liquid level isn't high enough and you're getting splashing from the stick blender. You could also process in batches in a regular blender as well.
Turn the stove back on to medium. Add the remaining broth (you may not need the full 12 cups--it's up to you how soupy you like your soup to be. I usually keep adding as time goes on so it maintains the soupiness I like :). Add the diced sweet potatoes. Bring the soup to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for about 30 minutes.
Add the sage, beans, and kale. (Depending on the size of your bunch of kale, you may not need to add it all. Just keep adding kale until it looks like enough kale to you. I usually make Jules' kale chips with the leftover kale!) Simmer for approximate 30-45 minutes until the kale and potatoes are tender. Season with pepper.
This has quickly become my favorite soup. I first "invented" it when I was getting all these vegetables in our fall CSA share. I made it for Thanksgiving dinner. I've been making it all winter, with fewer and fewer local ingredients. I just made it yesterday, and the only local ingredients I could find were apples, garlic, and winter squash, but at least this time I finally remembered to write down the quantities as I was cooking so I could post the recipe. But I think it's about time to retire this for the year--I'll be looking forward to next fall when I can find all these ingredients again!