As the polar vortex spins and the Arctic blasts march on, much of the world is looking for a warm pair of slippers and a nice hot meal to fight chill. This easy slow-cooker soup is the dish to satisfy and it just happens to be a beautiful pairing of old and new. Chickpeas, an ancient ingredient, provide a perfect garnish for the butternut squash which is said to have originated in the 1940s.
The chickpea was originally domesticated in Turkey, most likely at least 7,500 years ago. It quickly became a staple in Indian, African, Middle Eastern and Mediterranean cuisines and continues to be a dominant ingredient in each. Also known as a garbanzo bean, the chickpea stores very well and is extremely high in nutrition. It is an excellent source of protein. There are two main types of chickpeas: the desi and the kabuli. The desi is the oldest form. It is small, angular and variegated in color. This is the type that most likely originated in Turkey and then traveled to India where the kabuli developed. The kabuli has large beaked seeds.
While the chickpea has been consumed for millennia, the butternut squash did not make its way on to our plates until the 1940s when Charles A. Leggett, a former life insurance officer, made a move to the country on the advice of his doctor. According to his widow, Dorothy Leggett, Charles never planned on being a farmer, but he couldn’t stand to see the land on which their new house sat lie idle. After trying several crops, Charles settled on squash and began to experiment. He cultivated the butternut by combining Gooseneck squash with other varieties. He called it the Waltham Butternut (the name was arrived at when he took his squash to the Waltham Field Station in Waltham, Mass.) and today it is the most popular variety of the C. moschata species of squash. Interestingly, though the Waltham Butternut is only a few decades old, winter squashes in general including the C. moschata have much older origins. Archaeological evidence suggests it may have first been cultivated by the Mesoamericans around 10,000 years ago and it was treasured by the Native Americans because it stored easily and for long periods of time.
So if you’re looking for an easy comfort food that will warm you from head to toe and also connect you with the ancient past, look no further than this velvety Butternut Squash Soup With Maple Roasted Chickpeas.
Butternut Squash Soup With Maple Roasted Chickpeas
Cook Time: 3.5-6 hours
For the soup:
- 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
- 3 medium carrots, peeled and chopped
- 1 medium butternut squash, peeled, seeded and chopped into 1-inch cubes (about 5 cups)
- 1 large apple, peeled and chopped (Granny Smith or other variety)
- 2 (14 oz) cans low sodium vegetable broth
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 2 tablespoons maple syrup
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
For the chickpeas:
- 1 (15 oz) can Libby’s Organic Garbanzo Beans (chickpeas) or other brand
- 1 tablespoon canola oil
- 1 1/2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- Add the onion, carrots, butternut squash and apple to the slow cooker. Pour the vegetable broth over all of the ingredients. Cook on low for 6 hours or on high for 3 1/2 to 4 hours.
- Once vegetables are cooked and soft, puree the soup using an immersion blender. Add the cinnamon, nutmeg and maple syrup. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. If you don’t have an immersion blender, you can transfer the soup to a blender (in batches) and puree until smooth. Pour the soup back into the slow cooker and season with spices and maple syrup.
- While the soup is cooking in the slow cooker, make the maple roasted chickpeas. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Rinse and drain the chickpeas and pat dry with a towel. Remove the skins by rolling them on the towel. In a small bowl, combine the canola oil, maple syrup, brown sugar, cinnamon and salt. Place the chickpeas on a large baking sheet. Pour the maple syrup mixture over the chickpeas and toss until chickpeas are well coated. Place in the oven and bake for 40-45 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes or so. Remove from the oven when chickpeas are crunchy.
- Pour soup into bowls and garnish with maple roasted chickpeas. Serve immediately.
1. Alternative Field Crops Manual, http://www.hort.purdue.edu/newcrop/afcm/chickpea.html
2. Hirst, Kris. K. “Chickpeas or Garbanzo beans (Cicer arietinum): The Domestication of Chickpeas”, http://archaeology.about.com/od/domestications/qt/chickpeas.htm