A healthy, flavorful soup chock full of healthy ingredients, Smoked turkey and Barley Soup with Kale and Butternut Squash is perfect comfort food on a chilly winter's evening!
"Mmm Mmm Good!"
Do you remember this slogan? Campbell Soup Company began using this in a marketing campaign in the 1930s and its effectiveness landed it in the top 25 of all advertising campaigns of the last century. This time of year, soups and stews draw me, but I don't want to open a can. Making homemade soups is a far healthier alternative, and stunning results can be accomplished in short order.
During the colder months, soups and stews are my "go to" meal... especially on weeknights. One key to making delicious soups in a hurry is to keep good quality broth or stock on hand. When possible, I pull frozen homemade stock out of my freezer. I make large batches of vegetable, chicken, beef, and seafood stock, and freeze 4-6 cups in zip bags. I also keep good quality cartons of commercial stock in my well-stocked pantry. With this step out of the way, a steaming bowl of nourishing and delicious soup can be on your table in under an hour, including my Smoked Turkey and Barley Soup with Kale and Butternut Squash.
I had made a trip to our Natural Grocers, and the inspiration for this soup was the redbor kale - a curly leaf purple and green variety that is just lovely. I also grabbed another seasonal favorite - butternut squash. As I mentioned, I keep good stock on hand, and my pantry provided the medium-cook barley, onion, and cannelini. I grow rosemary in my garden, and during the colder months, I keep smoked turkey drumsticks.
I have to sing the praises of smoked turkey drumsticks. They provide all the smoky flavor of a ham hock, but are far meatier and less fatty. The smoked turkey is a key flavor in this soup.
Since this was a weeknight meal, and I was cooking after a later-than-usual workout at the gym, I might have figured there was not time to make a soup that required tenderizing a turkey drumstick to the point that it would fall off the bone. Fortunately, I have a pressure cooker!
Don't fear the pressure cooker. They've come a long way since our moms and grandmas used them 🙂 I made this soup in under an hour, and the turkey came off the bone with a fork... If you want to make this soup and don't have a pressure cooker, you can cook the turkey drumstick in a crockpot during the day, and prepare the soup in the evening. I have done so many times. Of course your range top will work just fine. Keep in mind, though, the turkey will need about 2-3 hours on medium-low heat to become tender enough to bone it.
- Breaking down a butternut squash is a pain, and pretty time consuming. Most markets now carry fresh, cubed butternut squash... for a price of course.
- I like medium-cook barley best as it holds its texture far better than quick-cook barley, but takes less time to cook than hulled barley. If you make a substitution, be sure to follow the instructions for cooking time.
- Kale bunches really range in size, and it does wilt when cooked, but if you have a huge bunch, you may wish to use less than a whole bunch.
- Any winter squash makes a good substitute, including pumpkin.
- Kale comes in several varieties including dino (or Tuscan) kale, redbor kale, red Russian kale, etc. Remove the woody stems and coarsely chop the leaves.
- Chard is a great alternative to the kale. You may use the stems or ribs, chopping them prior to adding to the soup. The leaves will only require wilting in the hot soup.