Saturday, October 25, 2008

Autumn Harvest Soup with Butternut Squash, Kale, and Farro or Brown Rice

Butternut Squash Soup with Kale and FarroSometimes it seems like my best kitchen creations just come together out of whatever's in the garden or fridge, and that's how this delicious soup was created. I'd just picked my last few Really Big Squash, as well as a healthy bunch of Red Russian Kale, and I'd been craving Farro, an ingredient I've loved ever since I tried it in Farro with Mushrooms last May. The butternut, kale, and farro combination here turned out to be wonderful, but if you wanted a gluten-free version you could make this with brown rice, which would also be very tasty.

I wish I could say I was organized enough to have planned something this color when my friend Ilva from Lucullian Delights asked for orange-yellow food for Heart of the Matter, the blogging event where people submit heart-healthy recipes. Actually it was just a stroke of luck that I managed to have something the right color, and heart healthy as well, but since the stars have aligned I'm submitting this recipe for this month's round-up. See more heart-healthy offerings at The Heart of the Matter.

I recently wrote about How to Peel and Cut Up a Butternut Squash, which might have been what got me going on this butternut squash frenzy. For the soup, I wanted the squash cubes on the small side, about 1/2 inch.

I'm a bad step-by-step photographer this time, because I actually simmered the farro for about 10 minutes before I added the squash. I guess that wouldn't have made a very good photo anyway. After the squash was added, I simmered about 30 minutes more.

I mashed some of the squash into the soup before I added the chopped Red Russian Kale, and then simmered about 20-30 minutes more.

Autumn Harvest Soup with Butternut Squash, Kale, and Farro or Brown Rice
(Makes about 8 servings, recipe can be cut in half. Recipe created by Kalyn.)

1 cup farro (can also use brown rice, see instructions below)
1 onion, finely chopped
1 T olive oil
1 tsp. dried thyme
1/2 tsp. dried sage (rubbed sage)
4 quarts chicken stock (I used homemade chicken stock, but you can use canned stock or stock from a carton)
6 cups diced butternut squash
4 cups chopped kale (I used Red Russian Kale, but other kale varieties would work)
salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste

Soak farro in cold water 15-30 minutes. (Rice does not need soaking)

Chop onion, then heat olive oil in bottom of large soup pot, add onion and saute about 5 minutes. Add thyme and sage and cook 2-3 minutes more.

Add chicken stock to soup pot and bring to a low simmer. Drain farro and add to stock, then simmer 10 minutes. (You could skip this initial ten minutes of cooking with brown rice.) Add butternut squash and simmer about 30 minutes, or until squash is quite soft. Use a potato masher to mash some of the squash so it dissolves into the soup, leaving other pieces whole.

While soup simmers, wash and chop kale. Add kale to soup and simmer about 20-30 minutes more. (I like the greens cooked fairly well in my soup.) Season to taste with salt and fresh ground black pepper. Serve hot.

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South Beach Suggestions:
The use of butternut squash and farro would make this recipe phase two or three for the South Beach Diet. I'd probably serve this as a starter soup for phase two, or a whole meal for phase three.

More Delicious Soups with Squash:
(Recipes from other blogs may not always be South Beach Diet friendly; check ingredients.)
Zucchini and Yellow Squash Soup with Rosemary and Parmesan
Butternut Squash Soup from FamilyStyle Food
Roasted Butternut Squash Soup from 80 Breakfasts
Cuttied Butternut Squash Soup from Alice Q. Foodie
Butternut Squash, Red Lentil, and Coconut Soup from Daily Unadventures in Cooking

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  1. This looks great, I am very into farro these days - although I haven't soaked it ahead of time. Interesting.

    I love your header! Although the kid in me wants to collect chestnuts just to throw them :)

  2. I've never used (or even heard of!) farro. I will definitely have to try it out... I'm tring to get Bobby to eat more whole grains :)

  3. Great recipe! It looks so fresh, healthy and totally delicious. I love it!

  4. Kalyn what a beautiful soup! I love your recipes! You enlighten me so much on using veggies in different ways and branching out and trying the unknown!

  5. look so yummy! I love soups, when it gets colder like this time of the year they are real comforters :)

  6. That soup looks wonderful ! I have never heard of farro either but I will be looking for it.

  7. Thanks Kalyn, what a perfect entry and tasty too (I love the farro-butternut squash combination), I'm very happy you are participating in HotM, I hope it's not the last because you have always such healthy recipes! Must be off, that

  8. I am a big fan of farro, kale, & sqaush so this a home run - thanks for sharing!

  9. Kalyn, what a delicious soup. Farro is really a fabulous grain. I don't eat it often enough but everytime it comes into my kitchen i keep asking myself why i don't have it more often. I have loads of kale at the moment so i can easily reproduce your dish.

  10. So glad to see that farro made it safely from Boston and into this wonderful soup. The recipe epitomizes Fall for me -- dark greens, winter squash, hearty grains.

  11. Thanks to everyone for the nice thoughts about this. I was so happy with how it turned out.

    For those who haven't tried farro, it's very much worth looking for. I can't find it anywhere in Salt Lake so far (although I am going to try the Italian market on the other side of town.) I know you can buy it at if all else fails. I'm lobbying my local whole foods to carry it, but they look at me like I'm crazy.

    I did buy a bunch of it in Boston and had it shipped, but it hasn't arrived and I'm getting worried because a few other things that were supposedly mailed to me haven't shown up either. Fingers crossed that I will get it!

  12. Am I nutty but I really do find this soup can sweep me off my feet! So beautiful! Healthy and no body would know ;0) until you tell.

  13. Some of the best soups are born of the simple expediency of using whatever is left over, or what needs to be used up. I think it forces us to try combinations we might never have thought of otherwise.

  14. What a fantastic recipe Kalyn and you're so lucky to have that garden! I was relieved to find that I cut Butternut Squash in exactly the same way as you recommend.

  15. mmmm...Kale and butternut squash - two of my favorite things, together in one pot. Yummy!

  16. This looks like a hearty soup! I love butternut squash and I'm off to check out your post on how to peel and cut it up!

  17. Great looking soup the the flavour contrast of sweet squash against earthy kale sounds yum.

  18. Butternut is so beautiful in soup. What a perfect autumn combination. Lovely.

  19. I love everything about this soup, Kalyn-- the colors, the flavor, and the nutritional boost! I'm planning on posting on a red lentil and kale soup in which I used red kale too.

  20. This looks fanatstic, especially for the chilly fall day that it is!

  21. What a healthy, hearty and tasty sounding soup.

  22. Carole with an "e" in NYCOctober 30, 2008 at 6:55 AM

    Made this soup on Tuesday for dinner but used regular green kale as I couldn't find the red. The farro was easier to find then I imagined, right there on the shelf of my Stop and Shop. Hearty, satisfying, as well as delicious. I really like to make soups starting this time of the year, so thanks for adding one to my list. It is a keeper.


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