Butternut Squash, Leek and Potato Soup with Crunchy Kale Recipe

We’re getting into prime soup season and nutrient-rich squash is a classic choice. And here, puréed squash and potatoes give this soup its rich and creamy texture, without the addition of cream. The two secret ingredients are chopped apple and ground cinnamon. Kale—a powerhouse of nutrients—becomes addictively crunchy when roasted in a hot oven and makes a great garnish, notes cookbook author Marie Simmons, who contributed this recipe to Real Food. For the soup, either oven-roast butternut squash or, for a super-quick version, use a bag of frozen cubed squash from the frozen vegetable section of your supermarket.

To make the soup heartier, sauté four strips of bacon until crisp and crumble each one on top of the soup, or stir in 12 to 1 cup minced cooked ham into the soup pot and heat until well warmed. Serve garnished with the kale. A thick slice of crusty artisan bread is always a nice accompaniment, too.

Butternut Squash, Leek, and Potato Soup with Crunchy Kale

Serves 4–6

1  butternut squash (about 2 to 212 lb.) halved lengthwise, 
    or 2 lb. cubed frozen butternut squash
4  oz. fresh kale
3  tbsp. extra virgin olive oil, divided
1  medium (about 8 oz.) leek, trimmed, washed and chopped
4  c. reduced-sodium vegetable or chicken broth
3  small potatoes (about 12 oz.), peeled and diced
1  medium apple, peeled, cored, and chopped
12 tsp. ground cinnamon
Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper

If using fresh squash: Preheat oven to 400°F. Place the squash cut side down in a baking dish; add a thin film of water and cover the pan with foil. Roast until squash is tender when pierced with the tip of a knife, about 30 minutes. When cool enough to handle, peel off the skin and cut enough squash into 14– to 12-inch cubes. (There will be about 6 cups.) Set aside. If using frozen squash, see below. 

While the oven is on, make the crispy kale: With your hands, pull the kale leaves from the tough stems. Gather the kale leaves together and cut into thin slivers. (There should be about 3 cups packed.) Place in a baking pan and drizzle with 1 tablespoon olive oil. Toss to coat and spread in an even layer. Sprinkle lightly with a pinch of salt. Roast 15 minutes or until crisp. Set aside.

In a soup pot, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil. Add the leek and cook, stirring, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the broth, potatoes, apple, cinnamon and 12 teaspoon salt. If using the frozen squash, add 1 bag now; heat to boiling. Cover and cook 15 minutes or until the potatoes and squash are tender. If using the roasted squash, add half or 3 cups now. Cool slightly.

Purée the soup in the food processor or blender until smooth and return to the pot. Or, use an immersion blender and purée the soup directly in the pot. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Add the remaining squash to the puréed soup and reheat, covered, about 5 minutes or until the frozen squash (if using) is cooked or the roasted squash is heated through.

Ladle the soup into bowls. Float a cluster of kale on each bowl of soup, dividing it evenly among the bowls.

Nutrition info (per serving) Calories 210 (63 from fat); Fat 7g (sat. 1g); Chol 0mg; Sodium 217mg; Carb 37g; Fiber 4g; Protein 3g 

In her role as Senior Editor on Greenspring’s Custom Publications team, Mary leads Real Food magazine, the nationally syndicated publication distributed through our retail partner grocery stores. She also leads editorial on the nationally syndicated Drinks magazine and writes a weekly blog post focusing on food and drinks for the MinnesotaMonthly.com. She rarely meets a chicken she doesn’t like, and hopes that her son, who used to eat beets and Indian food as a preschooler, will one day again think of real food as more than something you need to eat before dessert and be inspired by his younger brother, who is now into trying new foods.