It is this untried recipe for which I reserved many of the vegetables attained from that same Christmas share from which the Toasti was born. The kale, the butternut squash, the onions and carrots. I finally had it all at once and ready for soup.
What you need:
3 med carrots, peeled and quartered lengthwise
2 large tomatoes, quartered
1 large onion, cut in 8 wedges or 4-5 slices
1/2 small butternut squash
6 garlic cloves
1 T olive oil
6 c. or more veggie broth
4 c. finely chopped kale
3 large fresh thyme sprigs
1 bay leaf
1 15 oz. can great northern beans (or dry bean equavalent, soaked)
The problem was I spend every other weekend in Michigan, I planned on making it in Michigan (for lack of veggies at the houses where I reside while stationed there), and at about the time we reached Sandusky I remembered that I left the onions and squash behind.
An emergency stop to Krogers was in order, where we picked up a new squash and a bag of frozen onions (Don't judge. Even a veggie/prefers local veggies has to make a shortcut now and again. And to be honest, I'm not that fond of onions.), as well as the tomato, the broth, and the can of beans, which killed me but I haven't learned how to can yet and also, have not been brave enough to try the soaking of bagged beans overnight. Babysteps. Then, we were off to my parent's house, where the blender was located, for a little needed puree.
What you are suppose to do:
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Brush rimmed baking sheet with oil. Add carrots, squash, tomato, onion, and garlic. Drizzle oil. Salt and pepper. Toss. Roast stirring occasionally, to tender (45 min.)
2. Cut squash and carrots in 1/2 pieces. Peel garlic cloves and place in food processor. Add tomato and onion. Puree to smooth. Pour 1/2 broth onto baking sheet. Scrape up browned bits. Transfer broth and puree to large pot.
What I did:
1. Preheat. Check. Baking Sheet. Check. Hell, we forgot the olive oil. I guess the cooking spray will have to do. Add vegetables. Check. Well, except for the onion. Remember, it's frozen. More cooking spray. Salt and pepper, silently thanking myself that I at least transitioned my parent's house from table salt to sea salt. Toss. Roast for the 45 min.
2. Cut squash and carrots in 1/2 pieces. Peel garlic and place all three in a blender. Add tomato and onion (defrosted). Blend. Have the blender stop working. Attack food with spoon. Blend, repeat until smooth. Do not, for any reason, open the cans of veggie broth. Put puree in a tupperware container and clean all used kitchen utensils and appliances before mom comes home from work and is greeted with a mess. It would not go well.
Now, the hard part is done and had to be done at my parent's instead of Art's mom's house, where I would be cooking the soup, as Art's mom has no use for and thus, no blender and/or food processor. So Art and I welcomed my mom home into her spotless kitchen, visited a bit, and got in the car with our puree. A forty-five minute drive later, we arrived at the cooking soup house, sans blender.
What you are supposed to do:
3. Add 5 1/2 c. broth, kale, thyme, and bay leaf to pot with puree. Bring to boil. Reduce heat. Simmer uncovered until kale is tender (30 min.)
4. Add carrots, beans, and squash. Simmer 8 min. to blend flavors, adding broth to thin. Season with salt and pepper. Discard thyme and bay leaf. Can be made one day ahead. Serves 6.
What I did:
3. Pour puree from tupperware to large pot and add broth, kale, and bay leaf. Realize you forgot the thyme and there is none in the house. Forgo the use of thyme. Bring to boil. Reduce heat. Simmer uncovered 30 min.
4. Realize you weren't supposed to puree the carrot and squash and that this is probably why the pureeing process had been so difficult. Add beans. Simmer 8 min. to blend flavors. Season with salt and pepper (table salt, black pepper...). Search in vain for bay leaf. Ladle into bowl. Find bay leaf in bowl halfway through eating it. Discard bay leaf. Serves only you because neither Art nor his mother is interested in eating soup with butternut in it, especially when it lacks the inclusion of beef, though they admit upon tasting it that it isn't half bad. Soup will last three days if eaten for lunch and dinner for the duration.
Despite all the mishaps, I was surprisingly pleased with the taste and consistency of this winter soup. Obviously, it was a little more watery than it should have been (about like a tomato soup but with beans and kale floating in it), but that didn't affect the flavor, and I didn't mind it. I like tomato soup. Having the squash in the base or in a soup at all worried me, as it was a new experience, but I found the taste sweeter than I expected, with a hint of nuttiness and a dash of tomato that was just enough to induce nostalgia. Tomato soup is my go-to comfort food, especially when I "don't feel good." You see, I've never much cared for chicken noodle.
The kale, while cooked, still had a bit of stiffness to it that was more enjoyable than a limp noodle and the beans took in the flavors of the puree, while the bay leaf added that tanginess that it always does. Despite the lack of thyme, the unintentional puree, the haphazard preparation, and the looks on the faces of the people in the kitchen with me as I shoveled the soup down my gullet (Why'd you have to use THOSE beans?), it was delightfully taste-textured, soothing, and most importantly, healthy.
I deem it worthy of the effort and maybe next time I have all the ingredients in my cupboard, I'll even try my hand with the dried beans instead of canned. And maybe I'll be able to make it in my own kitchen.