Butternut, Kale, White Bean + Leek Soup

IMG_3547IMG_3865IMG_4098IMG_3538“Soup is cuisines kindest course. It breathes reassurance. It steams consolation. After a weary day it promotes sociability… There is nothing like a bowl of hot soup, its wisp of aromatic steam teasing the nostrils into a quivering anticipation.”
-Louis P. DeGouy, The Soup Book, 1947

Soup Season. AKA my time to shine.
I’m one of those irritating females who firmly believes that most all of life’s problems can be solved with a good bowl of something. Telling me your problems will almost certainly result in me trying to
foist something homemade upon you.

“I’m sick”… “I’ll bring you some soup”.
“He won’t call me”… “The bastard. I’ll bring you some cake“.

It feels absurdly womanly to be pottering about the kitchen, mixing things in big pots, swooning over a stove top, using a ladle; which is of course, the absolute holy grail of wholesomeness when it comes to kitchen utensils. Making soup for someone sick (or worried or sad or just nearest at hand) conjures up all those innate domestic goddess inclinations that feminism has long taught us to suppress. This is the sort of soup that overcomes the most pervasive of cold-weather ailments. There’s nothing tricky going on here. A few beans, a whole bunch of vegetables, a little something green. Nothing fancy. Eternally nourishing.

Pumpkin, Kale, Leek + White Bean Soup
Two leeks, white part only, chopped
One stalk of celery, finely chopped
Two garlic cloves, minced
One bunch of kale, roughly chopped
500 grams of white beans, soaked and drained
500 grams of butternut pumpkin, in 2cm cubes
One and a half litres of chicken stock
A good pinch of chilli flakes
One bouquet garni
Sea salt and black pepper

Preheat the oven to 220 degrees. Coat the pumpkin lightly in olive oil, sea salt and black pepper. Roast the pumpkin for twenty minutes or until cooked through.  In a large saucepan, saute the leek, celery and garlic in a little olive oil until soft. Add the kale, chilli flakes, stock and bouquet garni. (If the beans aren’t soaked and completely soft, add them now so as they can simmer and soften down, if they are from a tin or completely pre-soaked, add them towards the end) Simmer for twenty minutes to half an hour. Add the pumpkin and the beans, if ready. Season with salt and pepper, allow to simmer for a few more minutes to let the flavours mingle. Remove the bouquet garni. Ladle into bowels. Serve with Parmesan cheese, a little bread and a warm blanket.