I spent the majority of last week on a business trip in London tempered by a brief, but much-needed visit with my bestie, Kathryn, who is living there for a stint working for the 2012 Olympics. When I returned home on Friday, jet lag in tow, I was in need of a restful weekend, ready to catch up on my exercise, healthy eating and most of all — sleep! It seems the weather wanted to give me some help with those plans because it had suddenly turned cold and snowy — the perfect weather for sleeping and — soup-making!
I had a fresh Butternut Squash on hand and what better way to use it than to make a creamy butternut squash soup. I also had some lentils so I tried my hand at a Crock Pot Lentil Stew. Why not? I was feeling inspired by the soup chapter in the book that held my attention on the seven plus hour flight across the pond, Kathleen Flinn’s The Kitchen Counter Cooking School.
The best thing about both of these soups is the minimal time commitment.
Butternut Squash and Apple Soup for a Cold Day
1 Butternut Squash, peeled and cubed
1 apple, cubed
1 onion, sliced thinly and caramelized
2 Tbsps olive oil
Cinnamon to taste
Cayenne (to taste, optional)
Steam the butternut squash until cubes begin to soften and add the apples about half way through until everything is soft.
Meanwhile, caramelize the onions – add sliced onions to 2 Tbsps olive oil and saute on medium heat until they brown. Turn heat down to low and continue to cook for 15-20 minutes.
Transfer the squash, apples and caramelized onions to a blender and add water in 1/2 cup increments until the soup is the consistency you like. Add cinnamon to taste and a dash of cayenne. Reheat on the stove as needed.
By Sunday, I was beat by 8 p.m. but I really wanted to make a lentil soup and use up some of the vegetables in my fridge. So I hauled out my crock pot and concocted the following mixture, switched it on to low and went to sleep. In the morning, I had a tasty stew!
Ingredients (this is a loose list because you can use whatever vegetables you have!)
2 c. vegetable broth + six cups water (can use all water)
1 package pre-cooked lentils
1/2 large onion, thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic
1 inch ginger, thinly sliced
1/2 chili pepper, thinly sliced
2 Tbsps olive oil
4 sprigs thyme
2-3 stalks celery
4-5 small, new potatoes
2 c. kale (I used the kale I had previously blanched and frozen)
sea salt and black pepper to taste
Saute onion, chili pepper, ginger and garlic in olive oil until onion browns.