This butternut squash soup is made with kale, tomatoes, poblano peppers, chicken sausage, beans and wheat berries. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)

This butternut squash soup is made with kale, tomatoes, poblano peppers, chicken sausage, beans and wheat berries. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)

2 recipes join forces to make a hearty butternut squash soup

When I wanted to welcome fall with a squash soup, I turned to Mom’s “everything in the pot” motto.

I grew up eating acorn squash. Like most moms, mine would cut them in half, scoop out the guts, fill the holes with butter and brown sugar, then bake it in the oven.

So, years ago, when I found a recipe for squash risotto, I instinctively reached for an acorn.

That was a mistake.

While winter squash can be substituted for each other in many squash recipes, I don’t recommend it. If a recipe calls for butternut, stick to butternut.

Winter squash already have a hard skin and flesh, making them a challenge to cut. Acorns are even harder to peel. They have distinctive ridges that don’t take kindly to a peeler. I spent hours cutting, peeling and cubing the thing.

And then, a year or two later, I did it again.

My mom recommended a squash chili that, like the risotto, called for easy-to-peel butternut squash. Yeah, I was on autopilot and bought the wrong squash.

Now I pay attention to my squashes.

One of my favorite squash recipes is a soup made with butternut squash, kale, tomatoes, poblano peppers, chicken sausage, beans and wheat berries. It’s like fall in a bowl.

This soup is inspired by two butternut squash recipes that my mom found in Relish magazine. Seeing their similarities, she decided to pick her favorite ingredients from each to make a new soup. (She rarely follows recipes, a trait I find both endearing and frustrating.)

I’ve included the recipes for both the Farro and Kale Soup and the Poblano and Butternut Squash Chili, so you can try all three of you want. Or take a page from my mom’s book and mix and match ingredients that you like.

I brought my butternut squash soup to The Daily Herald to share. My colleague Mark Carlson tasted a steaming bowl, garnished with grated Parmigiano Reggiano.

“This is a good combination of ingredients for a satisfying fall soup,” he said. “The peppers added a bit of heat to the sweetness of the butternut squash and the acidity of the tomatoes. And I really liked the toothsome bit of texture that the wheat berries added.”

Carlson added: “My mom made soups like this, usually when the fridge needed a cleaning-out. Of course, kale and wheat berries weren’t available at the old B&M in Marysville, so I guess her soups weren’t exactly like this one.”

So go ahead: Use these three recipes as a guide to make your new favorite fall soup.

But, whatever you do, be sure to grab a butternut squash.

Sara Bruestle: 425-339-3046; sbruestle@heraldnet.com; @sarabruestle.

Mom’s butternut squash soup

This recipe combines the best of two butternut squash soups — see below — and adds spicy chicken sausage.

1 pound hot chicken sausage

1 medium yellow onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 large or 2 medium poblano peppers, seeds removed, chopped

1 jalapeno, seeds removed, chopped (optional)

1 cup wheat berries (farro)

6 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth

3 cups peeled butternut squash, chopped into ½ inch cubes

1 (28-ounce) can Italian plum tomatoes with juice

1 can (15-ounce) kidney, pinto or cannellini beans

2 teaspoons ground allspice

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon dried thyme or 1 tablespoon fresh thyme

1 teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon ground black pepper

2 to 3 cups coarsely chopped kale, ribs removed

Grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, for garnish (optional)

Brown the chicken sausage in a skillet over medium heat. Set aside.

Heat oil in a soup pot over medium heat. Add onion and saute until softened, 2 to 3 minutes. Add garlic and saute 1 minute. Add poblano and optional jalapeno and saute 1 minute. Add wheat berries and stir to coat. Add broth, chicken sausage, squash, tomatoes, beans, allspice, cumin, thyme, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, breaking up tomatoes with a spoon.

Reduce heat, cover with a lid and simmer until squash is tender and wheat berries are cooked, about 30 minutes. Stir in kale and simmer 2 minutes. Ladle into bowls and sprinkle grated cheese on top.

Serves 8. Nutrition per serving: 224 calories; 4 grams fat, 44 milligrams cholesterol, 20 grams protein, 27 grams carbohydrates, 7 grams fiber, 7 grams sugar, 1,508 milligrams sodium.

Farro and kale soup

Remove tough ribs of kale from leaves before chopping. White beans would be a great addition to this soup.

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 medium yellow onion, chopped

2 garlic cloves, finely chopped

1 cup wheat berries (farro)

6 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth

2 cups peeled butternut squash cubes (½ inch)

1 (28-ounce) can Italian plum tomatoes with juice

1 (2-inch) chunk Parmigiano Reggiano cheese rind

1 teaspoon dried thyme or 1 tablespoon fresh thyme

½ teaspoon salt

2 to 3 cups coarsely chopped kale

Grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, for garnish (optional)

Heat oil in a soup pot over medium heat. Add onion and saute until softened, 2 to 3 minutes. Add garlic and saute 1 minute. Add wheat berries and stir to coat. Add broth, squash, tomatoes, cheese rind, thyme and salt. Bring to a boil, breaking up tomatoes with a wooden spoon.

Reduce heat, partially cover and simmer until squash is tender and wheat berries are cooked, about 30 minutes. Stir in kale and simmer 2 minutes. Discard cheese rind. Ladle into bowls and sprinkle grated cheese on top.

Serves 6. Nutrition per serving: 230 calories, 3.5 grams fat, 5 milligrams cholesterol, 10 grams protein, 41 grams carbohydrates, 9 grams fiber, 1,050 milligrams sodium.

— Recipe by Lynda Balslev

Poblano and butternut squash chili

A potluck favorite, this vegetarian chili has a robust meaty quality. Serve it alongside a bowl of rice or with cornbread.

3 cups chopped, peeled butternut squash

1 large or 2 medium poblano peppers, cut into halves, seeds and stems removed

2 tablespoons olive oil, divided

1 teaspoon salt, divided

Freshly ground black pepper

1 medium onion, chopped

2 banana peppers, chopped

1 jalapeno, seeds removed, thinly sliced

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 cup dry beans (kidney, black or pinto), presoaked

Water

2 teaspoons ground allspice

1 teaspoon ground cumin

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Spread squash and poblano peppers on a baking sheet. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon olive oil; sprinkle with ½ teaspoon salt and pepper. Roast about 20 minutes, until squash is browned and pepper skins are blistered. Let cool. Remove pepper skins. Chop peppers and set aside with squash.

Heat remaining olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion, banana peppers, jalapeno and garlic. Add ½ teaspoon salt and pepper; cook until onion is translucent. Add dry beans; stir until coated. Pour in water, covering beans by at least 2 inches. Add roasted poblano. Simmer until beans are tender, about 2 hours, adding more water as necessary. When beans are tender, add squash, allspice and cumin.

Serves 8. Nutrition per serving: 164 calories; 4 grams fat, no cholesterol, 8 grams protein, 27 grams carbohydrates, 8 grams fiber, 304 milligrams sodium.

— Recipe by Nancy Vienneau

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