| Ellie Krieger |
WASHINGTON (WP-BLOOM) – Vegetable soups are the perfect canvas for seasonal produce.
In early spring, a lingering chill in the air calls for warm asparagus or pea soup laced with tarragon, and summer begs for chilled cucumber puree and gazpachos.
But soup really comes into its own once we turn back the clocks and temperatures fall: What we then crave most is a big bowl of warmth to slurp down.
This one-pot wonder makes the most of autumn’s multicoloured bounty. Although it doesn’t have many ingredients, the vegetables and seasoning in it make for a surprisingly bold and deeply satisfying flavour. There is a sweet, earthy undertone from the carrots and butternut squash that is balanced by savory garlic, tomatoes and ribbons of kale.
Allspice, thyme and a touch of cayenne pepper perfume the broth and give the soup a bit of a Caribbean flair. Sometimes I toss in cooked chickpeas or black-eyed peas for extra heartiness and healthful protein.
Either way, it is a dish I make year after year, and one that makes me welcome the season’s longer evenings.
Autumn Vegetable Soup (photo above)
Six servings, makes eight to nine cups
Two tablespoons olive oil
One large onion, diced
Three medium carrots, diced
Two cloves garlic, minced
Two cups peeled, cubed (half-inch) butternut squash
One-quarter teaspoon ground allspice
Three-quarter teaspoon salt
Pinch cayenne pepper, plus more as needed
Four sprigs fresh thyme
Four cups no-salt-added chicken broth or vegetable broth
Fourteen or 15 ounces canned, no-salt-added diced tomatoes, with their juices
Two cups lightly packed shredded kale leaves
Heat the oil in a large soup pot over medium-high heat. Add the onion and carrot, stirring to coat; cook until they begin to soften, stirring occasionally, about six minutes. Add the garlic and cook for one minute.
Stir in the butternut squash, allspice, salt and cayenne pepper, then add the thyme, broth and the tomatoes with their juices. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium-low; cover and cook for 10 minutes.
Uncover and stir in the kale; cook for 10 minutes or until the squash is tender and the kale has wilted.
Discard the thyme sprigs before serving. Taste, and adjust the seasoning as needed. Serve hot.
Nutrition per serving: 130 calories, four grammes of protein, 16 grammes of carbohydrates, six grammes of fat, one gramme of saturated fat, 15 milligram cholesterol, 440 milligram sodium, four grammes of dietary fibre and six grammes of sugar.
*The soup can be refrigerated for up to five days or frozen for up to three months