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Lentil and Butternut Squash Chowder

I was shocked by how easy and tasty this meal is.

The hardest part is peeling, seeding, and chopping the butternut squash, which isn’t that hard at all. If you can manage that step, you’ve got this meal. It’s also almost impossible to screw up, which is good since I was doing it on my own (see last week’s pasta that needed to be rescued).

Equipment

  • Standard prep equipment (cutting board, measuring cups)
  • A good knife, to peel and chop the butternut squash; don’t try it with a flimsy knife
  • A soup pot or dutch oven; something thick that will distribute heat evenly and won’t burn the bottom

Ingredients

Amount Ingredient Preparation Where we bought it
(* Union Square Greenmarket)
1 Butternut squash (med. – large) Peeled, seeded, and chopped Keith’s Farm *
1 Potato Peeled and chopped Berried Treasures *
1 Large carrot Peeled and chopped S&SO *
1 Medium yellow onion Chopped S&SO *
1 cup Lentils (any color) Whole Foods bulk section
1.5 TBsp Tomato paste Whole Foods
2 tsps Dried thyme
4 cups Water
To taste Freshly ground black pepper

Directions

  1. Start with the most difficult part: dissecting the butternut squash. Cut the top and bottom off of the squash. Lay the squash “on its side” and make a 3rd cut at the point where it narrows, chopping it more or less in half. Prop the first half up standing on one of the straight cuts so that it is stable on the cutting board.

  2. Using a knife, slice downwards to remove a patch of the skin. (In most cases, a peeler will not peel deeply enough and you would have to make multiple passes, so a strong, sharp knife works better). If the piece is rounded you may have to make multiple slices at various angles. Your goal is to take off all of the skin, exposing the bright orange flesh, while removing as little of the bright orange flesh as possible.

  3. Now cut the peeled halves in half again, this time lengthwise.

  4. Use a metal spoon to scrape out the seeds, guts, and inner layer of flesh.

  5. Once you have four “clean” pieces (peeled and seeded), chop them in to 1/2 inch or 1 inch cubes. The size of the cubes doesn’t matter as much as the consistency. Whatever size you choose, make all cubes of the squash, potato, and carrot roughly the same size.
  6. Next peel your potato and your carrot (this time use a peeler) and cube them. Dice the onion into 1/4 inch pieces (not as large as the other vegetables). Measure out the water, lentils, thyme, and tomato paste. You can also optionally add some diced celery if you like.

  7. Put all the ingredients into the pot and add some ground pepper. Put the pot on high heat, cover it, and bring the water to a boil. Once it is at a boil, remove the lid and lower the heat until the liquid is just barely simmering / bubbling. Let it cook like this for 90 minutes.

  8. The best part of this recipe is that even though it takes an hour and a half, you do not need to babysit it very much. Check on it every 15 minutes or so and give it a stir. If you accidentally overcook it and it gets too thick (think paste), just add a little water at a time, stirring occasionally, until it is back at the proper consistency. It should look like this:

To make this recipe even easier, prepare all the ingredients the night before and instead of cooking it on the stove, use a crock pot
. Set it to cook it on low for 4 hours before you leave for work and then just let it switch to “warm” until you are home and ready to eat it.

Enjoy!

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