Butternut ‘n Tomato Turkey Soup

It’s still October, but here in Connecticut, it snowed today. There’s always something magical about the first snow of the season, and nothing compliments cold weather like a hot and hearty soup for dinner. This soup combines a lot of my favorite ingredients: butternut squash, turkey, chickpeas, and fire-roasted tomatoes. The flavors combine to make a really pleasing palette.  The sweetness from the butternut squash, the savory turkey, the smokey fire-roasted tomatoes. Mmm, I couldn’t wait to dig into this dish!

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I use dried beans, which take a bit more effort, but I love their flavor and firmer, fresher texture than canned beans. If you have the time, soak 1/2 cup of dried chickpeas/garbanzo beans overnight (or for at least four hours). Then, cook them according to the package directions – about one to one and a half hours at a simmer. If you don’t have the time, canned chickpeas work just fine, too!

Start with the butternut squash by halving a squash and seeding it. This recipe only calls for 1/2 a butternut squash, but you might as well cook the other half and use that in another recipe, or as a side dish for tomorrow’s dinner. Spread a bit of olive oil over the flesh of the squash and sit it on a baking pan, skin-side down. You can seize this opportunity to roast your garlic; the roasted garlic gives this dish a robust flavor. First peel off any loose papery skins with your fingers, leaving at least one skin on each clove of garlic. Put these into a small piece of tin foil and drizzle them with olive oil before closing the foil.

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You can roast all of this at 350 degrees until the squash is easily pierced with a fork, approximately one hour.

Note: You can do this step ahead of time and refrigerate the squash and garlic until you’re ready to make the soup, or just proceed with the rest of the recipe once you stick them in the oven (like I did).

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While your squash and garlic bakes, slice your carrots and dice your celery and shallot.

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Cook the shallot first for about a minute or two in an oiled pan, until they’re a bit tender and soft. Then add the carrot and celery and cook them for another few minutes.

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Add your turkey and seasonings (rubbed sage, thyme, cumin, oregano, and freshly ground black pepper) and cook until the turkey is cooked through. Lower the heat to a simmer and add the can of fire-roasted tomatoes, chickpeas, and two cups of vegetable broth (reserve the last cup for blending your butternut squash).

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Turn down the heat as low as possible, or turn it off, while your squash finishes cooking.

When your butternut squash and garlic are done cooking, remove them from the oven and let cool until able to handle. The garlic should smell fantastic and fall right out of the peel.

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Remove the peels from the garlic, mince the roasted flesh, and stir it into the soup. Scoop the flesh from the squash (approximately 2 cups of flesh) and add to a blender with the remaining cup of broth. Blend this until very smooth and shiny, then add to the soup and stir thoroughly.

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I know that this looks a bit silly before blending, but that touch of sweetness from the puréed butternut squash really sets this soup apart from others.

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Add in the tomato paste and stir thoroughly. Cook on low heat for ten minutes to allow the flavors to combine. Add in spinach last, and continue to cook for about 1 minute, or until wilted. Turn off heat and enjoy!

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Butternut ‘n Tomato Turkey Soup

Ingredients: (in order of use through recipe)

1/2 butternut squash (~2 cups of flesh), seeded

Olive oil

4-5 cloves garlic

1 medium shallot (or 1/2 onion), diced

3-4 carrots, sliced (2 cups)

2 stalks celery, diced

1 – 1.5 lbs ground turkey meat (I used 1.2 lbs)

1 tsp rubbed sage

½ tsp thyme

½ tsp cumin

½ tsp oregano

1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper

1 (14.5 oz) can fire-roasted tomatoes

3 cups vegetable broth, divided

3 oz (1/2 can) tomato paste

15 oz chickpeas (or one can)

1 cup spinach, coarsely chopped

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place the butternut squash onto a baking pan, flesh side up. Coat the flesh with olive oil. Place the garlic cloves into a small piece of tin foil, drizzle with olive oil, and seal the foil closed around the garlic. Place this onto the baking pan with the squash and bake at 350 degrees until the butternut squash is tender, approximately one hour.

Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a medium stock pot (~6 quart pot) over medium heat. Add the shallot and cook for about 1-2 minutes. Add the carrots and celery, cook 2-4 minutes, until slightly tender. Add turkey and seasonings and cook until the turkey is cooked through. Lower the heat to a simmer and add fire-roasted tomatoes, chickpeas, and two cups of vegetable broth (reserve third cup).

When butternut squash and garlic are done cooking, remove from the oven and let cool until able to handle. Remove the peels from the garlic and mince the roasted flesh, stir into the soup. Scoop the flesh from the squash (approximately 2 cups of flesh) and add to a blender with the remaining cup of broth. Blend this until very smooth and shiny, then add to the soup and stir thoroughly. Add tomato paste, stirring thoroughly. Cook on low heat for ten minutes to allow the flavors to combine. Add in spinach last, and continue to cook for about 1 minute, or until wilted. Turn off heat and enjoy!

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