This soup is a story of giving up. Because sometimes, you just have to. Like that time I thought I would turn butternut squash into a dessert (i.e., right around the time this soup came into existence). I’m sure you’re thinking that that sentence is wrong, that butternut squash could only go right; let me tell you, though–it didn’t. I still don’t even know if the recipe I had written up to test out would work, because it was the getting there that got in the way:
I roasted the squash to sweet, caramelized perfection…making just the right amount of room for imperfection set in. As it cooled on the counter, my demon/munchkin cat, Arthur, helped himself to one of the baking sheets. The optimist in me saw the opportunity to at least use the untainted half, loading the good stuff into the food processor only to find that a very important part of the machine-the part that the blades plug into-had wandered off into the Minnesota-equivalent of the Bermuda Triangle. Kitchen upturned, appliances dismantled, I valiantly conquered that obstacle with a blender. I gently pulsed the squash until I couldn’t, suddenly. No problem! thought I, grabbing a giant, plastic spoon to assist. But here’s the thing about blenders: they may have a “Pulse” option, which technically should stop upon the removal of your fingers, right? Well, mine didn’t, and I watched in horror as my spoon splintered into the squash mixture.
Here’s the part where we talk about how I have trouble letting go. Much like the time a valuable part of the coffee brewer at work somehow landed in the garbage and I dug and dug through bag after bag of grounds for it, I sifted through that squash puree, fishing out each and every plastic piece, until it was, at last, what I had planned all along.
But then, mid-mixing, I found that the only eggs in the house had expired days before. And that, right there, was the point where I knew to walk away*. But here’s the thing: I left the situation only to find my sweetheart had come down with the flu (which I valiantly fought off for days before developing a sinus infection that, much like me, would not quit). So here I am, post-flu-soaked-warzone and -butternut-squash-breakdown, loaded up with antibiotics, thinking about this wonderful soup I made to warm up our sick-of-being-sick hearts.
If you have had a November anything like mine (i.e., weeks of just ILL), then this is your recipe. The only tears you will cry are either onion- or deliciousness-induced. Both of which, in my opinion, are well above any alternative.
Chicken, Kale, and White Bean Stew
Inspired by Food Network
2 tbsp olive oil
1 white onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, chopped
16 oz ground chicken (or ground turkey breast)
1 tbsp ground cumin
2 tsp chili powder
1 tsp dried oregano
1/4 tsp chili flakes
2 15-oz cans cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
1 15-oz can corn, drained and rinsed
1/2 cup shredded kale
2 quarts (8 cups) chicken stock
salt and pepper, to taste
grated fontina cheese, for serving
In a large pot, heat olive oil on medium-high. Add onions and garlic and cook until translucent. Add chicken, as well as a pinch of salt and pepper, stirring frequently until the chicken is cooked through, about 8 minutes. Stir in cumin, chili powder, dried oregano, and chili flakes, ensuring the chicken mixture is evenly coated. Next, add cannellini beans, corn, and kale. Pour in chicken stock and increase heat to high, allowing the mixture to come to a boil. Let boil for 5 minutes, then reduce slightly and let simmer for about 30 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve with a sprinkling of fontina cheese.
*This is a lie. I am a liar. First, I added more oil and considered a jar of applesauce, wasted some more vanilla extract, and turned the mixer to its highest setting. Blegh. I am a stubborn, sorry liar.