meatless . #51 {squash kale lentil soup}

Oy…that bugger Michael gave me his cold. It was inevitable with all the hacking and groaning that’s been going on in our house. Hopefully my plan to curtail this {drinking lots of water, taking dayquil religiously and drinking some theraflu before bed tonight} will work and I’ll awake feeling much better and less congested. Had planned to make a pasta tonight but nothing sounded better as a sickie than soup…and a nice brothy one at that. So I delved deep into several blogs I like and found a recipe on 101 Cookbooks for a Kabocha French Lentil Soup from February 2010.  Not only was the soup delicious I also got to do a little more fridge cleaning.  Added the remaining half bunch of kale that I used earlier in the week for the stuffed pork loin, added vegetable stock which let me finish the open container in the fridge and used the rest of a loaf of french bread which was used for the croutons and on the side warmed with a little salted butter. It was just what the doctor ordered tonight. Who needs chicken soup?! Here’s my adapted recipe.

Squash Kale Lentil Soup
serves 6

Squash
1  large butternut squash {about 1 ½ lbs.}
½ cup water
2 tbsp. olive oil, divided
Kosher salt

Lentils
4 cups water
1 cup lentils, rinsed
6 thin slices of fresh ginger
1 whole star anise
1 tsp. Kosher salt

Soup
1 leek – white and light green part only, quartered then sliced into ½” pieces
1 medium yellow onion, diced
1 large fennel bulb, eighthed then sliced into ½” pieces
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp. Kosher salt
4 cups vegetable stock
½ bunch kale, chopped 
2 pinches red pepper flakes

Preheat oven to 425º. Cut squash in half, scoop out seeds and place cut side up in a roasting dish. Rub squash with 1 tbsp. of the olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Add ½ cup water to the dish and roast for 35 minutes {in a small oven, put the dish in the middle; for a large oven, place in the top third of the oven}.

While the squash is roasting, cook the lentils. In a medium sauce pan, bring 4 cups of water to a boil. Add lentils, ginger, star anise and 1 tsp. Kosher salt. Reduce heat and simmer covered for 30 minutes.

Remove squash from oven. When cool enough to handle, cut squash 2″ cubes by running a paring knife through the squash all the way down until it hits the skin. Then use a large spoon to scoop out the cubes. Set aside.

In a large soup pot, heat remaining olive oil over medium heat. Add leek, onion, fennel and garlic. Reduce heat and cook for 10 minutes or until the vegetables soften. Remove the star anise and ginger from the lentils and add the lentils along with the cooking liquid to the large soup pot. Add the vegetable stock and kale; let cook for 15 minutes. Season with salt, pepper and pepper flakes. Divide into bowls and top with croutons…recipe below.

Thyme Croutons
makes 2 cups

6 slices of day old bread {or baguette}
1 ½ tbsp. melted butter
1 tsp. dried thyme
salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 400º. Cut bread into 1″ cubes. Mix butter and thyme in a small bowl. Salt and pepper to taste. Toss bread in butter mixture then make 1 layer on a baking sheet. Bake croutons for 5 minutes or until they just start to turn golden  brown. Remove from oven and let cool. 

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