I have something of an aversion to blended soups, mostly because the homogeneous texture gets boring after a while. Instead, I love brothy soups—ones with all kinds of things floating in the bowl for me to scoop out. But who says you can't add things into a blended soup to get the best of both worlds?
I decided to tackle that fall staple, butternut squash soup. Most recipes begin by peeling, cubing, and then simmering the gourd in a liquid until tender. But I wanted something a bit more assertive, so I hit upon the idea of roasting the cubed pieces until they were nicely browned and tender. And since I already had the oven on, why not cook everything in there?
To add a bit of color, I added red bell peppers and kale to the pan. The leaves don't get quite as crispy as full-on kale chips, but that's okay since they're tossed in the soup anyway. I also added some lemon wedges on top, which lent the kale a much-needed shot of acidity. Those same lemons are then squeezed into the soup, freshening up every spoonful.
Though this might sound a bit finicky, because it's all tossed in a couple pans and roasted, it's actually pretty easy. Plus, every bite is has a savory, roasted character that I found really appealing.
- 4 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 butternut squash, peeled, seeds removed, chopped into 3/4-inch pieces
- 1 medium onion, chopped (about 1 cup)
- 1 red bell pepper
- Kosher salt
- 1 bunch kale, ends trimmed, leaves roughly chopped
- 1 lemon, quartered
- 2 medium garlic cloves
- 3 cups homemade or store-bought low sodium vegetable or chicken stock
- Smoked hot paprika to taste
Adjust racks to upper middle and lower position and preheat oven to 450°F. Add 2 tablespoons oil to a large roasting pan or rimmed baking sheet. Add squash, onion, and bell pepper and toss to coat. Season with salt. Add remaining oil to a second roasting pan or baking sheet and add kale, lemon, and garlic. Season with salt and mix well. Place squash on top rack and kale on lower rack and cook, stirring every 10 minutes or so, until squash and red pepper are tender and kale is crispy, about 20 minutes for the kale and 30 minutes for the squash.
Transfer butternut squash, onion, and garlic to a blender and add the stock. Blend until smooth. Pour this mixture into a large saucepan set over medium heat. Being careful not to add any seeds, squeeze the roasted lemon wedges into the soup and season with salt to taste.
When the red pepper is cool enough to handle, remove skin, stem, and seeds, and roughly chop the flesh. Ladle the soup into four bowls. Top with a handful of roasted kale and a quarter of the chopped red pepper. Sprinkle some paprika over everything and serve.