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Autumn Vegetable Soup
Ellie Krieger's Hearty Vegetable Soup is packed with the colorful bounty of the season. / Renee Comet / USA WEEKEND

In the late autumn, just as I layer on thick, cozy sweaters, I also naturally shift what I eat. I move away from crisp, cool salads and toward big, belly-warming soups. As far as I am concerned, when there is a chill in the air, there is no more satisfying way to get your vegetables.

This soup is packed with the colorful bounty of the season. Butternut squash and kale are the starring players, but you could substitute any winter squash (such as acorn or pumpkin) or dark green leafy vegetable (like spinach or escarole). Allspice, fresh thyme and a dash of cayenne give a sweet and warming essence to the broth, and the addition of protein-rich chickpeas makes it a meal in itself.

You can easily make this soup ahead and serve it on a busy weeknight, along with some crusty bread.

Hearty Vegetable Soup

• 2 Tbs. olive oil
• 1 large onion, diced
• 3 medium carrots, diced
• 2 cloves of garlic, minced
• 2 cups peeled butternut squash in ½-inch cubes
• ¼ tsp. ground allspice
• 1 tsp. salt
• Pinch cayenne pepper, plus more to taste
• 4 sprigs fresh thyme
• 4 cups low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth
• 1 (14.5 ounce) can no-salt-added diced tomatoes
• 2 cups lightly packed kale, ribs removed, coarsely chopped
• 1 cup low-sodium canned chickpeas

Heat the oil in a large soup pot over medium-high heat. Add the onion and carrot and cook until they begin to soften, stirring occasionally, about 6 minutes.

Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute more. Add the butternut squash, allspice, salt and cayenne; stir to combine. Add the thyme, broth and tomatoes with their juice.

Bring to a boil then reduce heat, cover and simmer for 10 minutes. Add the kale and the chickpeas, if using, and cook for 10 minutes more until the squash is tender and the kale has wilted.

Pick out the thyme sprigs and discard before serving.

Yield: 4 servings
Per serving (2 cups): 260 calories, 37g carbohydrates, 11g protein, 9g fat (1.5g saturated), 7g fiber, 0mg cholesterol, 580mg sodium

Contributing editor and registered dietitian Ellie Krieger is best known as the host of Food Network’s Healthy Appetite. Her most recent cookbook is Comfort Food Fix: Feel Good Favorites Made Healthy.

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Ellie Krieger is host of the The Food Network’s hit show “Healthy Appetite,” which airs on The Cooking Channel. The author of three cookbooks, her latest is Comfort Food Fix: Feel Good Favorites Made Healthy. A registered dietitian, Ellie has helped out with First Lady Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move” campaign and has teamed up with New York City SchoolFood initiative, where she created healthy, delicious menu items for students citywide.