Apple Butternut Soup with Roasted Kale and Pumpkin Seeds

Serves 6
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By Alison Shaw

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.

Ingredients
2 tablespoons butter
1 onion, diced
5 cups diced butternut squash (large dice), (from 1 medium butternut squash)
2 carrots, peeled and cut into rounds (about 1 1/2 cups)
1 whole leek, sliced (a little over 2 cups)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon finely minced ginger
1/3 cup bourbon whiskey
5 cups water
2 tart apples, peeled, cored and cut in half or in quarters
1 – 2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 bunch kale, stalks removed, chopped into bite-sized pieces (about 3 cups)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 cup pumpkin seeds
1/4 cup fresh cranberries

  1. Melt the butter in a soup pot and sauté the onions for about 5 minutes. Add the squash, carrots and leek 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 about 30 additional seconds until fragrant.
  2. Before adding the water, 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 salt, bring to a boil, and 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.
  3. 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 2/3 full, placing a kitchen towel over the blender top, and blending from low to high.) 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 fresh black pepper.
  4. Preheat the oven to 350 °F while soup is cooking, and roast the kale. Tear the pieces of kale onto the baking sheet. Add 1 tablespoon of oil and knead into the kale. Sprinkle with salt and bake for 15 – 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 cranberries, and roast until pumpkin seeds are roasted and cranberries are softened somewhat, 6 – 7 minutes.
  5. Ladle in bowls, and top with the garnish of about 2 tablespoons of the oven-roasted kale (breaking apart if needed), some of the pumpkin seeds, and 3 or 4 roasted cranberries. Place any remaining toppings in bowls at the table for people to replenish or munch on.

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Kale, Glorious Kale
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