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Another one of my favourite posts when Spindle let me loose for a few months with a weekly food column in 2014. See it here.

Detox Schmetox: Butternut squash soup with kale pesto and fried breadcrumbs

Let’s talk about kale, baby.

Because here’s the thing: sales of everyone’s least favourite brassica rise by 490 per cent every January*. It’s the original superfood. The real McCoy of the blueberry-infested bunch, i.e. the one that works. But it’s also totally gross. If you’ve ever tried to actually cook with it and not just make Pinterest shrines to it, you’ll know it tastes as bitter as hell, gives everything it touches an awful dark green or purple taint, and goes the texture of receipt paper if you try do anything other than steam it. Don’t give me that. Brittle kale is about as sexy as, well, a fridge full of rotting vegetables. But you’ve got a glut of it now and the reality is no-one’s in the mood for breakfast smoothies when there’s an AWOL Oyster card to track down and you haven’t been outside during daylight hours since LAST YEAR.

So I’m going to offer you an escape route. It’s called kale pesto and it will solve at least half of your January dilemmas, if they usually involve not being able to appropriately fit into clothes that were loose in November, and trying to eat better, or whatever. It’s a bit late to be sorting out your resolutions right now to be honest.

This recipe makes enough for a small jar, which, when not using to top off this glorious soup, you can add to pasta and all those desktop salads you’ll be attempting in vain for the next two weeks. As well as being raw, by being shrouded in olive oil and garlic, you’ll get all the superfood-condensed-goodness without the gross-out reality of a plateful of thorns.

Here you have it: a segue to achieving your superfood-consuming January pipe-dreams thanks to the kale that just won’t leave.

*Totally made up

Butternut squash soup with kale pesto and fried breadcrumbs

Makes enough for four portions

Ingredients
For the soup:
Olive oil
1 onion chopped small
Salt and pepper
1kg butternut squash, peeled, de-seeded and cut into cubes
750ml miso paste made into stock, or regular vegetable stock
For the pesto:
100g kale (green stalks will make this look nicer, purple looks a bit icky)
2 cloves garlic, chopped
50ml olive oil
Salt and pepper
50g pine nuts, plus 25g more to add as a garnish if desired
Juice of ½ a lemon
For the breadcrumbs:
1 slice of bread, blended
1tbsp olive oil

Heat about 2 tbsp of olive oil in a large, heavy bottomed pan, and add in the onion. Season with salt and pepper and allow to sweat for about 4 minutes.

Add in the butternut squash and the miso stock, and mix through. Cover with a lid, bring it up to a simmer, and leave for around 20 minutes to cook through.

To make the kale pesto, add all the pesto ingredients to a blender bowl, or place in a bowl and use a hand blender to combine the ingredients to make a paste. Season to taste, and add more olive oil or lemon juice if needed. Set aside.

For the fried breadcrumbs, gently heat the breadcrumbs in a frying pan with 1 tbsp of olive oil, until they begin to crisp up. You can also use the same pan to lightly toast the extra pine nuts once the bread is done.
Once the squash is soft and totally cooked through, blend in a food blender or using a hand blender until totally smooth. Pour into bowls and add in a sprinkle of breadcrumbs, some kale pesto, extra olive oil and a few toasted pine nuts.

January, we out.