Spicy Butternut Squash, Kale, & Black Bean Soup

This weekend marks a pretty significant transition on the calendar. We’ve officially moved from ‘desperately-trying-to-hold-onto-the-last-seconds-of-summer’ to ’embrace-everything-good-about-Fall-because-what-choice-do-we-have’. If it walks like a duck and talks like a duck, right? Well, it smells like Fall, it looks like Fall, I’m craving apples and wearing scarves and watching football– it’s Fall.

And with that in mind, I’ve come up with this super-duper awesome, exceptionally filling, beyond tasty, 110% clean, vegan, very Autumn-ish soup. Full of superfoods, fibre, and protein, this squash-based soup is far more exciting than your average, ho-hum butternut options. It’s also very low glycemic index, and is great for virtually all dieters (Paleo and South Beach-friendly, gluten free, etc etc.) The only things it doesn’t have? Animal products and calories/fat/badness.

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So what are you waiting for?! Go grab your biggest soup pot, and enjoy the taste of Fall!

You’re gonna need:

1 large butternut squash

2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

3-4 white onions

7 cloves of garlic (sounds ridiculous, I know, but trust me)

2 Tablespoons powder vegetable stock (the boxed stuff works too, but this is better!)

Cups and cups and cups of water

2 Tablespoons cayenne pepper (less if you can’t handle the heat)

2 Tablespoons paprika

1 spicy pepper (I suggest jalapeno if you aren’t crazy about spice, scotch bonnet if you are)

2 Tablespoons salt

3 cups kale, de-spined and diced

1 can black beans, drained and rinsed

1/3 c cilantro

Your first step? Preheat your oven to 400F/200C. Grab your squash…

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…and cut it vertically in half. Place on a cookie sheet, and bake for 50 minutes.

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While your squash is baking, grab your onions and garlic.

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Now, I’m sorry to have to put you through the pain that is chopping onions, but toughen up those eyes and dice those onions.

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Once you’ve stopped crying, pour your oil into your big pot and heat on medium. Add your onions, and cook for about 10 minutes. They should soften. Dice your garlic, and add it to the mix– cook for about a minute longer.

Now, throw about four cups of water into your pot. Add your vegetable stock, and mix.*

*If you’re using boxed veggie stock,  you’ll want to use two full boxes, and omit the water at this step.

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Let this simmer down to almost nothing. Add more water and repeat. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: reduce, reduce, reduce. The key to a really great, flavourful soup is reduction. My super-whiz in the kitchen boyfriend taught me about layering flavours in soups, and it really does take an ‘ok’ soup to an unbelievable, gotta-have-more, soup-nazi quality soup. So, again– the more reduction, the better.

Now, at this point, you squash should be coming out of the oven. Isn’t it gorgeous?!

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Grab a spoon and scoop out all of those seeds and stringys…. but be careful not to take too much ‘meat’ in the process!

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Perfect. Now, remove any excess skin (it should peel off relatively easily), and chop into large squares.

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Add about eight cups of water to your now-very-reduced soup pot, and throw in all of your squash. Keep on medium heat.

Now it’s time to get spicy. Add all of your spices and your pepper! Remember, the more you add, the spicier the final product will be, so proceed with caution.

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This gnarly looking guy came out of my garden… I think it looks like the pumpkin coach in Cinderella!

De-spine and chop your kale, and throw it into the mix.

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Adding kale, spinach, or chard to soups and stews is a great way to ‘sneak’ extra greens into your day!

Reduce, reduce, reduce. Let it boil down, and add more water when it gets low. Stir occasionally. This should go on for at least an hour, if not more.

Now, if you’ve made some of my other soups, you know my love of the hand blender. It magically transforms lumpy, bumpy, chunky soups into silky, smooth goodness. If you don’t have one, you can skip this step. Remove your soup from heat, and grab your hand blender. Blend, blend blend! Get all of those chunks outta there.

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Gorgeous final product, no?

Now that that is out of the way, put your soup back onto medium heat. Add your black beans and another 2-3 cups of water.

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Stir, and let simmer for another 1/2 hour.

When you’re ready to eat, ladle into big soup bowls and top with a big pinch of cilantro.

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Now, isn’t that beautiful?!

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Serve piping hot, and don’t be afraid to get seconds–this soup is made of pure goodness!

For those who’d like to cool down the heat of this soup, top with a big dollop of 0% fat plain greek yogourt– it’s a super clean substitute for sour cream.

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Store your leftovers in the fridge, and you’ve got lunch ready to go for tomorrow.

Bon Appetit!