Soup

Entrée, Gluten Free, Soup, Winter

BUTTERNUT SQUASH + KALE MINESTRA

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I feel weird that I called it a "minestra." That is the Italian word for a mixed vegetable sort of soup, think minestrone, and it sounds way more intriguing that way right?! I skipped the pasta here, though you could totally add it or some brown rice or shredded chicken to fill it out if you're into that sort of thing. I have a tough time with salads when it's chilly out, so this pot of goodness serves as an alternative to pack in the vegetables. It is made of easy, pantry staples and some easy to find produce. Boring on its own (sell it, girl!), as brothy, all-vegetable soups go, so a heavy hand with the parmesan croutons is necessary. It tastes better the next day, so lunch leftovers or delivering it to a sick friend is encouraged. 

BUTTERNUT + KALE MINESTRA // Serves 6
Inspired by Williams and Sonoma
I understand wine and vinegar are not often subs for each other, but I hate when I have all but one ingredient. It's winter, I stock red wine in the cool months ;) The recipe listed here leaves you with a fairly stewy soup. Add a bit more broth, and you can add in a cup of cooked orzo, brown rice, some shredded rotisserie chicken or what not to bulk it up. 
Use a rich tasting vegetable broth if dietetically preferred, but a bone broth or fresh stock will add more body to this light soup. The soup can be made in advance, add the kale in the warm up to preserve its bright color. 

2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil, plus more to drizzle
1 yellow onion, chopped
1 small fennel bulb, cored and sliced
3 cloves garlic, chopped
sea salt and pepper, as needed
1 small butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cubed (3 cups)
2 sprigs of rosemary
2 sprigs of thyme
1/2 cup white wine (or 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar)
1 tsp. dried oregano
dash of cayenne
1 Tbsp. tomato paste
1 14.5 oz can diced fire-roasted tomatoes
1 14.5 oz. can white beans
3 cups low sodium broth, vegetable or chicken
1 bunch of kale, stemmed and roughly chopped

parmesan croutons
1/2 a loaf of day of bread (gluten free bread works too)
1-2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
grated parmesan, plus more for serving

In a large dutch oven or heavy pot, warm the oil over medium heat. Add the onion, fennel, garlic and a generous pinch of salt and pepper and saute until they begin to brown. Add the butternut squash, another pinch of salt, whole herb sprigs and saute. Add the white wine and let it cook down, leaving the lid ajar so the squash softens, about 6 minutes. Stir in the oregano, cayenne, tomato paste, roasted tomatoes, white beans and broth (more or less based on how thick you like your soups). Bring the soup to a gentle simmer, leave the cover ajar and cook for 15 minutes. Taste for seasoning. If it tastes flat, it likely needs more salt, maybe more cayenne and a squeeze of lemon. Stir in the chopped kale until it just wilts, about a minute or two.
While the soup cooks, make your croutons. Preheat the oven to 375'. Rip the loaf into rough 1" pieces. Toss them in the oil to coat, pinch of salt and pepper, and parmesan. Bake the croutons for 12 to 15 minutes until dry an browned on the edges. Set aside to cool.

Ladle the soup into bowls, finish it with a drizzle of olive oil, a heavy handful of croutons and more cheese. 

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Entrée, Soup, Winter, Fall, Gluten Free

BUTTERNUT + RED LENTIL SOUP

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I'm currently on my third double chocolate cookie despite having all sorts of  recipe testing leftovers in the fridge I could cobble into a more nutritious lunch. Can cookies be lunch? I could swipe almond butter on top for protein. Why didn't I give these away like I said I would? 'Tis the season I suppose; always makes me feel like baking, it's getting the baked goods out the door that appears to be the challenge. So in between, there are easy dinners. I have been asked three times for a butternut squash soup recipe by different friends or readers and I realize we only have this stew to reference. I generally prefer my soups chunky, but let's add a pureed one to the archives for good measure. I saw this one while flipping through Melissa Clarks' recent book and it sounded too perfectly simple and spiced not to try. Plus, I had all the ingredients. I swapped in a little curry powder for some of the cumin, added ginger at the end and garnished it with a bit of cilantro and toasted coconut. Optional changes, of course. Cheers to easy dinners, and cookies too, of course. 

BUTTERNUT + RED LENTIL SOUP // Serves 4-6

Adapted from Dinner by Melissa Clark

I find soup thickness to be a matter of taste. You can always add more broth at the end to thin it, but it's tough to go the other way. Start with the yields below, and you can thin it out after if need be. 

3 Tbsp. ghee or coconut oil
1 yellow onion, peeled and chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped
2 Tbsp. tomato paste
1 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. curry powder
pinch of cayenne
3/4 tsp. sea salt
fresh black pepper
1 cup red lentils
12 ounces peeled and chopped butternut squash (about one medium squash)
1 qt. low sodium vegetable or chicken broth
13.5 ounce can of coconut milk
fresh ginger, to taste
fresh lime juice, to taste

cilantro and toasted coconut, for garnish

In a large dutch oven over medium heat, warm the ghee or coconut oil. Add the onion and garlic and saute until soft, about 4 minutes. Add the tomato paste, cumin, curry powder, cayenne, salt and pepper to taste. Cook another minute. Add the lentils, squash, broth and bring it up to a simmer. Turn the heat down to low and cook, partially covered, for 30 minutes until the squash is tender. Stir in the coconut milk to warm through and add grated ginger and fresh lime juice to taste (I used about a 2" nub of ginger and 1 whole lime). Use a blender or immersion blender to make a chunky puree. Season to taste. It probably needs a bit more salt but that is to your discretion. 

Garnish to fresh cilantro and toasted coconut. Leftovers will keep covered in the fridge for a week. 

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Entrée, Gluten Free, Soup, Winter, Basics

BASICS: EVERYDAY LENTIL SOUP

Your day may be filled with potatoes and pecans and cranberries but dinner tonight may not have crossed your mind. And maybe this is not just a Thanksgiving eve problem, I get stuck with less than exciting options in my fridge to throw a dinner together but I usually have the staples for a simple bowl of lentil soup. I am excited to build up that "basics" section I mentioned and I absolutely believe that lentil soup has a place there. This soup builds off of a dependable mirepoix with the addition of sweet potato. I use two types of lentils for their texture differences and a gentle hand with the spices and then it's hands off while the dutch oven works it comfy, warm meal magic. There is maybe an Indian background from the turmeric and just enough spice to keep it from being bland. Add and get creative as you wish, but hope that this quick soup of pantry staples can make meal time a little easier some night soon. 

EVERYDAY LENTIL SOUP // Serves 4
I did not use two types of lentils to make it complicated for you, I believe they add a different texture and color. The reds will break down and add some heartiness to the broth where the green will hold their individual shape. Both are lovely, but if you find this to be a hassle, go with just green. Once you blend a bit of the soup, the broth with still get some bulk to it regardless. The color will be a little more murky. If you like a bit of heat, add one chopped jalapeno to the vegetable mixture.

2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 yellow onion
1 large carrot, peeled
1 medium sweet potato, peeled
2 stalks of celery
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 tsp. sea salt, plus more to taste
1/2 tsp. lemon pepper (or something similar, like Mrs. Dash)
1 tsp. Italian herbs
1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes, to taste
1/2 cup green or dePuy Lentils
1/2 cup split red lentils
5 cups vegetable or chicken broth*
1/2 tsp. turmeric
2 Tbsp. unsalted butter or olive oil
3 cups roughly chopped kale

squeeze of lemon, optional
1/2 cup chopped parsley, for garnish
1/2-3/4 cup grated parmesan or something similar (dry and sharp)
fresh, toasted baguette, for serving

In a large dutch oven over medium heat, warm the olive oil. Chop the onion, carrot, sweet potato and celery into roughly 1/4" pieces. Put all of the vegetables, including garlic, into the warm pot with the sea salt and saute until just softened, about 5-6 minutes. Stir in the lemon pepper, Italian herbs, red pepper and both lentils. Add the broth and stir. Turn the heat to low and cover. Cook for 30-40 minutes until everything is tender but not mushy. Using an immersion or regular blender, blend up about half of the soup just so it gets thicker but nowhere close to purees. You still want the texture of the vegetables to come through. Turn off the heat. Stir in the turmeric, butter/oil and kale and stir for the greens to just soften and marry into the soup. Taste for seasoning. 
Serve each bowl with a squeeze of lemon, parsley and generous sprinkle of parmesan. Best served with crusty baguette on the side. 

*Soup texture is a personal preference. I don't really like them stewy, but it's always easier to add liquid than go back. I found five cups to be about right after blending and letting it cool down a bit (where it thickens slightly), you may adjust to taste. 



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