Edmonds Healthy Eating: Welcome fall with lentil and squash soup

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When asked what my favorite season of the culinary year is, I usually say it’s the one we’re in. I am especially fond of the fall because pumpkins, squash, kales, potatoes, Brussels sprouts and other autumnal veggies start coming to the market. All of these ingredients delight me because this time of year is Soup Season!
Soup has always been a go-to meal for me. I can make a big pot of soup on the weekend and serve it for dinner throughout the week. It makes a wonderful make ahead meal. Sometimes I add rice or pasta as well as additional veggies to change things up and disguise the fact that my family is still eating from the same pot of soup!
One of my favorite go to soup ingredients is the small, but mighty lentil. Lentils are a  quick and easy source of protein with versatility. They are a super brain food and much easier to digest than other beans. Using lentils is also nice because they do not need soaking and they cook up quickly. Just a quick rinse and you are ready to go. In addition, lentils are one of Mother Nature’s best brain foods. They are a good source of protein, folic acid, dietary fiber, and many trace minerals. Lentils are good brain food full of brain-friendly B vitamins with folate that helps keep our minds healthy and sharp as we age. Lentils support cognitive functioning (iron), focus (folate) and memory (zinc).
Serve with a salad or cabbage slaw along with a loaf of warm bread and you have a perfect meal for an autumn day. This soup gets better day by day too!

Lentil and Squash Soup

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 yellow onion, diced small
Sea salt
2 carrots, peeled and diced small
2 celery stalks, diced small
1 medium delicata squash, peeled, seeded and cut into 1/2-inch cubes (you can substitute butternut squash)
1 teaspoon curry powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon ground fennel
Pinch of red pepper flakes (optional)
1 cup dried green lentils, rinsed well (feel free to use any type of lentil)
8 cups vegetable or chicken broth
1 cup tightly packed, stemmed, and thinly sliced kale

Heat the olive oil in a Dutch oven or heavy soup pot over medium heat. Add the onion and a pinch of salt and sauté until translucent, about 4 minutes. Add the carrots, celery, squash, and another pinch of salt and sauté until all of the vegetables are just tender, about 5 minutes.

Add the curry powder, cumin, turmeric, coriander, fennel, 1/4 teaspoon of salt, and red pepper flakes and give a stir. Add the lentils and stir to coat. Pour in 1/2 cup of the broth to deglaze the pot, stirring to loosen any bits stuck to the pot, and cook until the liquid is reduced by half. Add the rest of the broth. Increase the heat to high and bring to a boil. Decrease the heat to low, cover, and simmer until the lentils are tender, about 20 to 25 minutes.  (Timing may depend on the type of lentil you use.)

Taste and add a pinch of salt if necessary. Stir in the kale and cook until it’s tender, about 5 minutes.
MAKES 6 SERVINGS • PREP TIME: 20 minutes • COOK TIME: 35 minutes

— By Deborah Binder

Deborah Binder lives in Edmonds with her family. She is “dancing with N.E.D.” (no evidence of disease) after being diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2009. She is a foodie who loves to cook from scratch and share here experiments with her family and friends. She attended culinary school on the East Coast and freelances around town for local chefs. Her current interest in food is learning to eat for health and wellness, while at the same time enjoying the pleasures of the table. As Julia Child once said, “Everything in moderation including butter.” Deborah can be contacted at jaideborah@yahoo.com.

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