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Paintbrush Squash 1

Paintbrush Lentils

IMG_2880 - Copy

Paintbrush Soup

Confession:

Until I looked up images to make this recipe, I didn’t actually know what a Butternut Squash looked like.  I attempted to make butternut squash soup last year but I shopped at an Asian market and purchased a green pumpkin (thinking it was equivalent).  I know, it sounds terrible that a food lover doesn’t know her way around the fall squashes, but until the last few years I affiliated squash with that yellow spaghetti squash.  It makes for a very tasty spaghetti alternative, but my knowledge was very limited.

For some reason I have a hard time with Fall (and therefore fall vegetables).  I grew up in Arizona and although I spent high school and college in Kansas, I still see Fall as this season of waiting for the warm weather to return.  Even though we have a beautiful array of fresh local vegetables year round in California, I kind of envy those who live in Chicago, Boston, New York, DC etc.  They experience a full range of seasons and weather that we just don’t have.

That said, I like to follow beautiful blogs like Cannelle et Vanille.  She takes beautiful photographs, worked as a pastry chef, is from the Basque country of Spain, is a mother of two and travels frequently.  I often flip through her gluten free cookbook Small Plates and Sweet Treats, which focuses on seasonal meals that she cooks at home.

This recipe is adapted from her cookbook and I hope to try many more.

Ingredients

  • 1-1/2 Tbs expeller pressed canola oil or extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 small yellow sweet onion (or medium shallot), chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 medium carrots, peeled and diced
  • 1 celery stalk, diced
  • leaves from 2 stems of fresh oregano or thyme
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup red lentils, rinsed
  • 1 small butternut squash, peeled, halved, seeded, and diced
  • 1 medium sweet potato, peeled and diced
  • 6 cups (1.5 L) low sodium chicken stock

Directions

  1. In a large pan (or pot large enough for the soup), heat the oil over medium heat until it shimmers.  Add the onions and saute until translucent, about 2 minutes.  Add the garlic and incorporate until you smell it.  Add the carrots, celery, salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally about 5 minutes or until the vegetables are tender.  Incorporate the oregano and remove from the heat.
  2. Transfer the cooked vegetables to a large pot.  Add the red lentils, squash, sweet potato, and chicken stock.  Cover the pot and bring the stock to a boil over medium-high heat.  Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 20 minutes or until the vegetables are tender.  Puree the soup in a blender in batches and adjust the seasoning as desired.
  3. Serve with sour cream if desired.

Consider using the scraps from the onion, garlic, carrots, and squash to make a vegetable broth.  If you have any dried shitake mushrooms, they go great in a vegetable broth.  You can even use the broth to supplement the chicken stock if you’re like me and don’t want to buy two cartons.  Just bring 2-1/2 quarts water to a boil in a large pot and add the scraps plus 2 celery stocks chopped, 1 medium shallot cut in half, 2 garlic cloves, and 4 dried shitake mushrooms.  Keep the skins on for additional flavor.  Return to a boil, then turn down to low and simmer for 1 hour.  Remove the shitake mushrooms to reuse, strain the stock through a fine mesh strainer and add salt to taste.

Refrigerate for up to 1 week or freeze for up to 1 month.

I was even crazy and toasted the squash seeds with olive oil and salt!  They go great in a salad.

Also, I changed up the format of this post and I would love your feedback.  I put all the photos at the top, while I usually mix up the photos with text.

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