Sunday, April 17, 2011

The Last of 2010's Bounty - Spiced Butternut Squash and Lentil Soup

You may not believe what we had for dinner the other night.  Butternut squash from our garden.  That's right, until a few days ago, we still had three small butternuts left from our 2010 garden.  And I mean fresh ones, not frozen or canned or dehydrated.  These babies have been sitting patiently in our pantry for more than five months without rotting or drying out or going bad in any other way.  You gotta love the shelf life of winter squash! 

As you may already know, we keep our thermostat quite low over the winter, which conserves energy and makes us very uncomfortable unless we are under lots of blankets, with the added benefit of creating a root cellar–like atmosphere in our kitchen.  Our pantry then works like a basement, where most people would normally store their autumn harvests for the winter months.

So, that's the last of last summer's garden, not counting anything we froze or canned.  And, here's what we made with it:

Spiced Butternut Squash and Lentil Soup
(adapted from the Better Homes and Gardens Biggest Book of Slow Cooker Recipes)

1 cup dry lentils
2 1/2 cups peeled butternut squash, cut into small pieces
1 medium onion, chopped
1 medium carrot, chopped
1 stalk of celery, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon garam masala*
4 cups chicken broth or vegetable broth

Rinse and drain lentils.  Then mix all ingredients in a 3 1/2- to 4-quart slow cooker.

Cover and cook on low setting for 8 to 9 hours (or on high setting for 4 to 5 hours). 

Before serving, we like to puree the soup using an immersion blender.  You could also do it in batches in a regular blender.  It comes out looking like baby food, so, if that grosses you out, just don't puree it.  You may also want to add extra broth if the soup seems too thick.

*Garam masala is an Indian seasoning, and it makes this soup what it is.  You can probably find it in the spice aisle in most large grocery stores.  It's actually a savory and harmonious blend of spices like nutmeg, cloves, coriander, cumin, and pepper, among others.

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