January 11, 2011

Butternut Lentil Soup

True Story: One time someone gave me a baggie of ground dehydrated hot peppers. I promptly stuck my nose in the bag and took a big whiff. I thought I was going to die. End of story.

I obviously lived to tell of it. But my advice to you is this: If someone gives you a baggie of ground up dehydrated hot peppers, don't put your nose in there and smell it.

It's like being sprayed with mace. (Not that anyone has ever had to spray mace at me.) (Really.) (Please believe me.) (I'm serious.)Let's get back to these peppers...

I carefully poured these ground peppers into a spice jar with a nice fitting lid and labeled them "HOT."

I use them all the time.

To make your own "HOT," grow a variety of hot peppers, dehydrate them in a dehydrator, grind them up, then put them in a baggie and give them to an unsuspecting countrygirl who you know will stick her nose in there and smell it.And please try not to laugh.

Cumin is another spice you can grow yourself, even in chilly climates. (I'm in zone 5 and I grow it.) But the slightest frost will kill a cumin plant, so wait until all threat of frost is gone before planting seeds. Let the plant grow all summer until it goes to seed. Let the seeds dry on the plant. Then just pick them off and put them in a jar before they drop off the plant. I keep those seeds in my pantry and smash them up with a mortar and pestle just before I use them. It doesn't take very many freshly smashed seeds to make something taste like cumin. (Don't forget to save some seeds to plant more cumin the next summer!)Now use cumin and something "hot" to make this delicious soup! BUTTERNUT LENTIL SOUP

1 cup diced onion
2-4 cloves garlic, chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 teaspoon cumin seeds, freshly smashed (increase to 1/2 teaspoon if using a jar of store bought ground cumin)
1/2 teaspoon ground "hot" spice of your choice (chipolte powder, cayenne pepper, crushed red pepper flakes, or chili powder... although you may want to reduce the amount of cumin if using chili powder since chili powder usually has cumin in it)
1 quart vegetable stock (instructions for making your own here)
2 cups any color of dry lentils
2 cups finely diced or shredded carrots (easy winter carrot storage system here)
4 cups finely diced or shredded butternut squash
8-10 frozen roma tomatoes (may substitute with 1 quart or 1 large can of tomatoes, undrained)
1 (1 to 2 ounce) parmesan cheese rind (optional)
1/4 teaspoon salt (wait and add later, if using vegetable stock with added salt)
1/4 teaspoon pepper

Saute diced onion in olive oil in a large soup pot for about 10 minutes until onion begins to soften. Add garlic, ground cumin, and "hot" spice. Stir and saute for a few more minutes, just until garlic and spices become fragrant.

Pour in vegetable stock. Add lentils, carrots, butternut squash, tomatoes, and parmesan rind.

Cover pot and simmer over very low heat for a few hours until lentils and vegetables are soft. Stir occasionally to keep from burning and to help break up tomatoes. Add salt and pepper after lentils and vegetables have cooked.

Remove a few cups of soup, let cool slightly, puree in blender until smooth, then stir pureed soup back into the pot of un-pureed soup. (Options: Add more vegetable stock at this time, if you'd like a "soupier" soup... or add a can of evaporated milk at this time, if you'd like a creamier soup.) Adjust seasonings to taste.

Grate a bit of parmesan cheese over top when serving.


MARARIA said...

having a look at your blog, I saw this delicious dish, I love lentils! I have made lentils today in a different way. I haven´t tried with butternut, with your permission I´ll copy the recipe to make it soon!

homegrown countrygirl said...

Hi Mararia! You're welcome to copy my recipe... I hope you enjoy it!