Winter Squash and Kale soup

The flu/cold season is upon us...The first few weeks I have been busy trying to get this crew healthy.  No easy task! I am a big believer in bone broth...granted I hate the name!  Bone broth...it just sounds so bluck to me. I prefer "chicken stock" or Miso or some other cookie coated term. But the truth of it is the core of all soups for me this time of year will always be "bone broth".

So what is bone broth?  Here is a great article on the why and how of bone broth.  Nothing makes a sick body feel better than a mug of broth though. I know you vegetarians are shaking your head but...ya I am never going to be a vegetarian fully.  I can limit my meat easily to a few times a week but I stay healthier when I have a bit here and there in my diet. The key to a great broth is a great chicken though.  I have never been able to find a store bought chicken that gives me what I want in my broth. You can tell the clear difference on how the broth "gels" when you let it cool or after some time in the fridge. When you cook a chicken for hours upon hours you are drawing out the gelatin in the bones and it is amazing to me that a store bought chicken rarely, if ever, has this.  What does that tell me?  Not exactly sure (it's probably NOT good or natural to say the least) but I can tell you the taste is so different! We get our chickens from a handful of local farmers and they maybe tiny little birds but Holy Cow is the broth they make incredible!

Moving on... I always use this broth as a base for just about every soup I make.  When I make it I make a huge batch and freeze it into tupperware.  When frozen I crack them like ice cubes and store them in freezer bags.  Then it makes it easy to drop it into whatever I am making that may call for "stock". My favorite thing about my homemade "stock"? The incredibly low sodium!  I run from store bought stock as much as possible...that sodium content is RIDICULOUS!

When everyone gets sick this stock goes in everything.

Ingredients:

3-4 leaves of Kale  (curly, flat, green or red...all kale is good kale)1 Onion1 to 2 Winter or Chayote Squash (Butternut, Acorn and I also love Chayote Squash as well...hoping to grow some this year!)4-5 cloves of garlic (healing think healing so throw as much in as you can stand)2 Teaspoons Turmeric root2-4 teaspoons KelpAstragalus root (either 1-2 pieces of root OR 2-3 teaspoons ground)1-2 Teaspoons Ginger1 Pint or 4 large Mushrooms (Portobello, shiitake or oyster...all will be yummy)Salt to tastePepper to taste3 quarts of Chicken bone broth (recipe here)

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I always peel the squash...you don't have to but I do...

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I cook everything EXCEPT the Kale and mushrooms in a crock pot ALL DAY...Like 6 hours. Once the squash and veggies are nice and soft I put them in a blender and blend until smooth. I place them all in the stock pot on the stove top. Add the chicken stock from the crockpot as well and combine the chicken stock and the smooth veggie blend. Bring them to a low rolling boil and add in the chopped kale and the chopped mushrooms. Allow them to cook for 30 minutes or so.  Stirring often. If you are using fresh chicken stock then you can feel free to add chicken pieces into the meal as well.

And of course this recipe would work vegetarian style as well...just use a veggie broth instead. I add in the herbs for healing so they too could be left out but heck...why not make the soup extra healthy? :-) Let me just say...this soup is fantastic as left overs...we love us some left overs around here!

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