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Butternut Squash and Kale Soup: Birchbox Test Kitchen

You miiiight have noticed by now that Birchbox staffers have an ever-so-slight obsession with food, from colorful (and totally yummy) vegetables to delicious smoothies. Which is why we’ve enlisted our in-house recipe guru Nicole to divulge her kitchen secrets each week, sharing seasonal ingredients, must-have tools, and new cooking methods. 

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Spring is almost here (hooray!), but the farmers markets are still all about root vegetables and winter greens like potatoes, carrots, kale, and a cornucopia of different squash varieties. Last weekend, I headed to my local market with one goal in mind: I will make soul-warming soup while it’s still chilly outside.

Things I have learned in my modest soup-making experience include the following:

1. Most vegetables play well together, so get creative. Get crazy.

2. There will usually be a star ingredient, and a supporting cast. They’re both important!

3. Before adding in broth, sautée your veggies first in stages. This will release their fragrance and decrease cooking time. Or, try roasting veggies first for a more intense flavor that uses less oil.

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Keeping those tips in mind, I examined the offerings and decided that my star would be the Butternut Squash. (It’s certainly big enough to be in the limelight for a bit!) I also came across some beautiful carrots and onions, as well as some kale. I’d never made butternut squash soup before, but I could tell from the ingredients it would be on the hearty-sweet side. To try and balance this out and add a creamy element, I also picked up a few potatoes.

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It’s all gravy from here! Below you can find the recipe I pulled together with my loot, plus a few things I always have in my kitchen, like chicken stock and cayenne pepper. This makes about 8 servings. You’ll need:

1 medium onion, diced
chopped garlic to taste (I put garlic in everything. Feel free to omit.)
1 Butternut squash, 2-3lb.  (peeled, seeded, cubed)
1 large carrot, diced
4-6 small red creamer potatoes, cubed
2 stalks celery diced
2 cups chopped kale
4-6 cups homemade or store-bought low-sodium chicken or veggie stock
1 tsp fresh thyme (1/2 tsp dried thyme works too!)
Cayenne pepper to serve

The Steps:

1. Sautée onions + garlic in oil (olive, veggie, grapeseed all work) until fragrant. Add salt and pepper.

2. Add carrots, celery and potatoes, and toss to coat with oil and juices. Sautée 2-3 minutes.

3. Add cubed squash and kale. More salt & pepper.

4. Sautée everything for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. You’ll hear the veggies simmering, and smell them getting yummy.

5. Add stock. Let it come to a low boil and lower the heat. You don’t want it to go to a wild boil.

6. Add thyme, and let simmer on low for about an hour.

Now the only question—to purée or not to purée? And to this I say, why decide? I served it the first night chunky, and puréed the second night. Each was an entirely different take on the dish, and they were equally delicious!

—Nicole

Looking for more great recipe ideas? Check out even more from the Birchbox Test Kitchen.

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