Thursday, January 31, 2013

My Favorite Lentil Soup with Kale and Butternut Squash

Lively Yourself Up Lentil Soup

It's a dreary and cold day in late January and maybe you have just spent the last couple of days unintentionally loading up on sugary carbs and now you're feeling sluggish and generally crappy.  What do you do now?  {Let's just replace all those "you"s to "I"s and we'll get down to the real truth.}

Make some of this lentil soup!  It's meatless - vegan actually - unless you decide top with a poached egg which is also quite good.  It's colorful and delicious and every bite gets you back to feeling good again, even though it's still late January and still cold and dreary.

A few important items about this soup:

1.   Try to find French green lentils, also called Puy lentils, or black beluga lentils for this soup.  They hold up to cooking and don't break apart and turn to unrecognizable mush like other lentils have a tendency to do when cooked.  I have great luck finding these varieties in the bulk section of groceries like Whole Foods.

2.  Substitute roasted sweet potato for the butternut squash if you desire.

3.  Any hearty green will work.  I prefer kale in this recipe, but I've also used swiss chard which is also quite good.  The kale is just a bit heartier and chewier and stays defined in the soup a bit better.

4.  The leftovers may not be quite as colorful as the kale tends to turn less green as it sits, but it will be just as delicious as the day it was made.

5.  The leftover soup can be frozen quite successfully.

Lentil Soup with Butternut Squash and Kale
adapted from 101Cookbooks
Serves 6-8

1 medium butternut squash, peeled and diced to 1/2" cubes
2 cups black beluga lentils or green French lentils, picked over and rinsed
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
1 large onion, chopped
2 carrots, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tsp coarse salt
ground black pepper to taste
1 tsp dried marjoram
1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
2 cups water
3 cups of a big leafy green (chard, kale, etc), rinsed well, deveined, chopped

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.  Place the diced squash on a sheet pan lined with foil.  Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Roast for 30 minutes or until tender.  This can be done a day ahead.

Bring 6 cups of water to a boil in a large saucepan, add the lentils, and cook for about 20-30 minutes, or until tender. Drain and set aside. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a heavy soup pot over medium heat, then add the onion, carrots, garlic, salt, pepper and marjoram and sauté until tender, about 5 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes, lentils, and water and continue cooking for about 10 more minutes, letting the soup come back up to a simmer. Stir in the chopped greens and roasted squash, and simmer another minute or two until kale is wilted and squash is heated through.  Adjust seasoning if desired.

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