Last night was an experiment – I’m a sucker for great soup, and we’ve had a butternut squash sitting on the counter for a couple weeks. Since last week, I’ve been trying to think of a way to incorporate it into a soup. A couple other ingredients we needed to use before they expired were two tomatoes and half a lemon. I perused the pantry for other items to add to the pot and landed on lentils: love ’em! Lentils are great fall/winter ingredient, especially when you’re out of beef, chicken, or other meaty items. They add a lot of bulk to soup and they’re packed with protein, fiber, iron, folic acid, and amino acids. They rate low on the glycemic index which means they are digested more slowly, delaying how quickly blood sugar levels rise after a you eat. Basically, it keeps your blood sugar in check while keeping you full and satisfied.
After deciding on lentil and butternut squash as the key ingredients, I googled ‘lentil and butternut squash recipes’ and was surprised to find quite a few options. I didn’t stick to one recipe the whole way through. Instead, I used a combination of three different ones – one used tomatoes and bay leaf, a second that used red lentils and curry, and a third that used brown lentils and sprigs of rosemary. So, the ingredients I had at home dictated what went into the pot.
I will admit it was quite a bit of prep work. The butternut squash is by far the most difficult, but it’s not that hard. The exterior is very tough to cut through so it helps to peel the skin with a potato peeler first. Then slice length-wise, carve out the seeds, and cube into 1/2 to 1 inch pieces. Here is the recipe I ended up with:
1) large pot – I am obsessed with my 4-Quart Mario Batali Dutch Oven
2) cutting board
3) sharp knife
1 tbsp oil – vegetable or olive oil is fine
3 to 4 cups butternut squash – cubed
1 cup brown lentils
1 medium vidalia onion – diced
3/4 cup celery – chopped
3/4 cup carrots – chopped
2 medium tomatoes – chopped, remove some of the watery seeds
2 cloves garlic – minced
6 cups vegetable or chicken broth – I used regular but you could use low-sodium
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon curry powder – I would’ve used more, but it’s all I had left! Turned out to be the perfect amount
1/2 lemon – juiced
Heat oil to medium and add garlic and onions. Let these soften for 7-10 minutes. Add squash, celery, and carrots and cover for another 10 minutes, stirring often. Stir in tomatoes, curry and cumin. Add all of the remaining ingredients, bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer, cover and cook for 45 minutes to 1 hour, stirring frequently.
Serve with toasted cheesy bread or croutons, and top with cheese if you like! This pairs very well with red wine. Right now, we are enjoying a tempranillo/granacha blend from Trader Joes called La Granja. It’s quite inexpensive, which makes it taste that much better!
Table set, and ready to dine! That’s me, below … not the most flattering pic, but look at that soup! YUM.
What’s the last meal you made? Was it a success?