As much as I love and embrace summer fruits and vegetables, there is something particularly comforting about produce in the autumn and winter times. Warmer flavors as well as warmer colors that are rich and mellow invite family and friends to gather around.
This is a very flexible soup in terms of additions or subtractions. I make it every year and each time it changes. So feel free to use whatever is available to you locally as long as the flavors make good partnerships. This soup keeps well for several days in the refrigerator. In the unlikely event that you have leftovers you want to freeze, this soup freezes beautifully.
FALL SQUASH AND VEGETABLE SOUP
2 Tbl. Good quality olive oil
1 large onion (yellow or white), medium diced
3 carrots, medium diced (not the colossal ones; medium size is fine)
2-3 cloves of garlic, finely minced
2 ½ cups of winter squash, peeled and cubed into bite size pieces
(I used butternut squash but other hard winter squashes work fine.)
½ teaspoon allspice
Pinch of ground cloves
½ teaspoon cayenne pepper (can add more to suit your taste)
1-2 Tbl. Jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped (optional)
Coarse sea salt
1 quart chicken broth (if not using homemade, use no-fat, low, no sodium canned)
1 14-ounce can diced tomatoes
Several sprigs of thyme (whole) or several leaves of sage (chopped) (your choice)
2-3 cups of greens: chopped kale, beet greens, or chard leaves (I used kale)
1 cup chickpeas (or cannellini beans)
(if not using dried peas, drain and rinse the canned peas)
Heat the oil in a large pot over medium high heat. Add the carrots and onions and cook them, stirring often, until they begin to get soft. On my stove this took about 4 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for only a minute more. Be careful not to overcook the garlic or it gets bitter.
Add the squash, allspice, cloves and cayenne. At this point, throw in a generous pinch of coarse sea salt and the jalapenos. Stir to mix and then add the broth and tomatoes (with their juices) slowly so it doesn’t splash.
Stir the pot well and add the herbs. Bring it all to a boil then reduce the heat to medium. Cover the pot and simmer for about 10-12 minutes.
Add your greens and chickpeas (or cannellini beans) and leave the pot uncovered. Cook this for another 10-15 minutes until all the greens and squash are tooth tender.
Taste and adjust your seasonings.
(If you used thyme sprigs, remove the sprigs before you serve the soup.)