This weekend marks the return of daylight savings time and the first freezing temperatures of the season. I won’t even pretend to be upset, because I love these dark, cozy days (at least until March). I’m a homebody and introvert at heart, and I welcome the turn inward that this season encourages. It is soup season, indeed. This creamy white bean soup with butternut squash and kale is a tried and true standby in our house. I make many variations of it based on what we have on hand. This version has a short list of simple ingredients that strike the perfect balance in flavor and texture. It is really just white beans, butternut squash and kale, with some aromatics and spices for flavor.
It’s a very easy soup, with canned white beans as the star. You could absolutely use homemade beans, just make sure you reserve some of the bean stock (about a cup). Most recipes utilizing canned beans call for draining and rinsing them, but this recipe does not. One less step is always welcome in a recipe. It also takes advantage of all that good starchiness in the canning liquid, which yields a thicker, creamier soup. Because you will be adding the canning liquid, I do recommend using low sodium beans here so you can control the saltiness. If you do not have low sodium on hand, fear not — just taste as you go and take care with any additional salt you add. Another trick this recipe employs to produce a thick, creamy texture is to puree a portion of the soup before adding the kale. You can use either an immersion blender or regular blender for this step.
Whenever I add greens to soups or stews, I add them in the final five minutes of cooking so they retain some of their brightness (and nutrients!). Be sure to reserve the kale to add in the last five minutes. In addition to kale, squash and beans, smoked paprika and freshly grated nutmeg add nuance to the otherwise humble combination of ingredients. I add them towards the end of cooking to make the flavor pop. Top with parmesan, fresh herbs and a drizzle of oil, and serve with crusty bread (of course). And that’s it — a simple soup to make all season long. Enjoy! xo Maggie
- 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1 medium yellow onion, diced
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 4 cups cubed butternut squash, 1 inch dice (1 lb; from 1/2 large squash or 1 small)
- 2 tbsp fresh rosemary, minced
- 3 13 oz boxes/cans white beans, not drained (preferably low sodium — see note)
- 3 cups vegetable or chicken broth
- 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
- 1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
- 4 large handfuls chopped or torn kale
- Salt and pepper to taste
- To serve: grated parmesan, fresh herbs, extra virgin olive oil, aleppo pepper or red pepper flakes
- Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until onion has softened and is slightly golden. Add garlic and rosemary and cook for another minute or so, taking care not to burn the garlic. Add the butternut squash and a pinch of salt and pepper, and cook a few minutes more. Add the beans and broth. Bring mixture to a boil, reduce heat to low and cover pot. Cook for approximately 20 minutes or until the butternut squash is fork-tender.
- Using an immersion blender straight in the pot puree a little bit of the soup to thicken it. You want to retain most of the texture of the beans and squash. Alternatively, ladle 2 cups of the soup into a blender and puree. Return to the pot. Add the smoked paprika and nutmeg and stir to combine. Taste for seasoning and adjust accordingly.
- Add the kale and cover the pot, cooking for a few more minutes until the kale is tender.
- Divide among bowls and serve with desired toppings and crusty bread. I like a drizzle of olive oil, grated parmesan, fresh herbs and a pinch of Aleppo pepper. Enjoy!
This recipe calls for adding the canning liquid along with the beans, so I do recommend using low sodium beans here so you can control the saltiness. If you do not have low sodium on hand, fear not — just taste as you go and take care with any additional salt you add.