Butternut Squash Chickpea Soup

Butternut Soup
A cozy, versatile soup.

There aren't many soups as lush and versatile as butternut squash chickpea soup. This richly flavored combination can be adapted in many ways, seasoned to suit the occasion, and always offers a nutritious combination of vitamins and protein-building amino acids to support a variety of diets.

About Butternut Squash Chickpea Soup

If you are looking for a richly-flavored soup that can be presented in many guises, a combination of butternut squash and chickpeas used as a base, may be the answer you're looking for. Whether used as a chunky soup with a light broth or blended into satiny smoothness, it's hard to go wrong choosing these two basic ingredients. Butternut squash, a winter squash with a deep, sweet flavor much like pumpkin or sweet potato, provides plentiful vitamins and minerals along with carotene. Chickpeas, also known as ceci beans or garbanzos, provide amino acids to build proteins, fiber, and an appealing texture.

Fundamental Recipe

While plenty of the pleasure offered by butternut squash chickpea soup is found in the adaptable nature of the dish, it's good to start with a simple recipe before beginning to play with the many available options. Knowing how to make one delicious recipe with two forms gives a great base from which to grow.

  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced or crushed
  • 1/2 cup parsley, chopped (optional)
  • Sufficient oil to fry
  • 3 cups butternut squash, raw, peeled and cubed
  • 2 cups chickpeas, drained
  • 5 cups chicken or vegetable stock
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Cream to finish (optional)
  • Croutons (optional)

Sauté onion, garlic and parsley in a heavy soup pot on medium heat until the onions are tender and translucent. Add the squash, chickpeas and stock. Simmer until the squash is tender. Season to taste with salt and pepper. If you want a chunky soup with broth, you can add cream to the pot or use it as a garnish in individual dishes. You can also garnish the soup with croutons. If you want a creamed bisque texture then cool the soup slightly and blend with your food processor. Once you blend the soup you can again finish or garnish with cream and croutons. The recipe serves four to six people.

Variations

The basic ingredients of this soup allow the creative cook a lot of opportunity to experiment. Slight changes in seasoning and additional ingredients can provide a nearly infinite procession of meals, all using the same nutritious and inexpensive base. Consider the following minor changes to your base:

Tuscan Squash and Garbanzo Soup

Base recipe plus:

  • I/2 pound mild or spicy Italian sausage, broken up and fried with the onions and garlic at the start of preparation
  • 1 leek, white portions sliced thin and sautéed with onions, garlic and sausage
  • 1 cup shredded kale, added at the end of cooking and simmered just until tender

Curried Squash and Chickpea

Base recipe plus:

  • 1 tablespoon fresh hot chili pepper, minced fine, sautéed with onions and garlic
  • 1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger sautéed with onions and garlic
  • Two peeled, diced tomatoes or one can diced canned tomatoes
  • 1 tablespoon curry powder of choice, or 1 tbsp garam masala blend
  • Replace cream garnish/finish with Greek yogurt and a spoon of chutney

Moroccan Squash and Chickpea Stew

Base recipe, reduce liquid by 1/2, plus:

  • 1teaspoon cumin
  • 1teaspoon coriander
  • 1teaspoon cinnamon
  • Replace cream garnish/finish with Greek yogurt, top with 1/2 cup shredded coriander for final garnish
  • Serve with rice, couscous, noodles or hot breads

Thanksgiving Squash and Chickpea Soup

Base recipe plus:

  • 1/2 cup minced celery sautéed with onions and garlic
  • 1 tablespoon poultry seasoning
  • Garnish with a sprig of parsley or celery leaves, or a single sage leaf floated on top of the soup.

More Options

Because the basic soup is so versatile, there are still more ways you can play with the recipe. Imagine a mildly sweet "pumpkin pie" soup seasoned with pumpkin seasoning. Consider also the rich flavor of squash enhanced by roasting or grilling: by substituting three cups of mashed roast squash or grilled squash, the flavor of the soup shifts into darker, deeper tones, with the grilled squash offering a trace of smoked flavor. The same soup blended to smooth bisque consistency, garnished with kernels of leftover grilled corn and a spoon of pico de gallo salsa offers a Tex-Mex touch to this soup.

Whether you aim for a summery soup of grilled squash or the warm autumn shimmer of poultry seasoning and cream, the squash and chickpea base offers a superb canvas for creative cooking.

Butternut Squash Chickpea Soup