Slow Cooker Red Pepper Butternut Squash Soup

Welcome to Slow Cooker Sunday! Plug in and chill out on what’s supposed to be the laziest day of the week.

This week I was going to attempt a hard-core chili (no beans, no veg) but I haven't nailed the spices yet, plus requests for a vegetarian Slow Cooker Sunday have been echoing down the pipeline. I hear you—the meatball sandwiches from Chef Huw Thornton we all devoured in the CHOW Test Kitchen were fantastic (stay tuned for Huw's recipe post), but that was the final meaty straw. Time to slow down with a delicious vegan soup. The roasted chickpea garnish is an improved version of one of my earlier recipes, revised with Chowhound input.

Slow Cooker Red Pepper Butternut Squash Soup with Crispy Roasted Chickpeas
Makes 6 servings

You will need a hand blender for this!

1 large butternut squash
1 large red bell pepper
4 medium carrots
1 large yellow onion
1 quart (4 cups) vegetable broth
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon pure maple syrup
Sea salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper

For the roasted chickpea garnish:
2 cans chickpeas, also known as garbanzo beans
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/2 teaspoon sea salt

Step 1: Peel the squash.

Step 2: Cut the squash into roughly 1-inch cubes.

Step 3: Remove the stem and seeds from the bell pepper.

Step 4: Dice the bell pepper.

Step 5: Slice the carrots.

Step 6: Dice the onion.

Step 7: Add all vegetables to the slow cooker along with the vegetable broth, cumin, and maple syrup. Cook for 4 hours on high.

Step 8: Meanwhile, rinse the canned chickpeas and get them as dry as possible by letting them sit in the strainer. Then lay them out on a baking sheet lined with paper towels. Let them dry out for about 3 hours, while the soup is cooking.

Step 9: About an hour before the soup is done turn on the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Coat a baking sheet with the canola oil and then dump the dry chickpeas on top. Shake the baking sheet back and forth until the chickpeas are all coated with oil. Evenly sprinkle all the seasonings over the chickpeas and shake the pan again to coat. Roast for 40 to 50 minutes. Every 10 minutes open the oven and shake the pan to evenly distribute the chickpeas.

Step 10: They should be nice and crispy!

Step 11: After cooking for 4 hours, the soup is ready to purée. Use a hand blender to get the consistency you like. Add black pepper and salt to taste (the vegetable broth usually provides all the salt I need).

Step 12: Ladle into bowls and sprinkle with the roasted chickpeas. Enjoy!

Photos and styling by Chris Rochelle