So…. this polar vortex is heading right towards me (and everyone else on the Northeast seaboard) and if you have not already been affected by this cold – chances are you are already right in the thick of it.
Today was my first day back to work, and after a productive day back I had one idea in my head as I was driving home from work. Soup. Lentil soup. I knew I wanted to put a new twist on the traditional lentil soup that I have made before. I thought back to Ina’s minestrone soup and the secret ingredient – butternut squash. So I decided to add some butternut squash to the mix.
Here are the players in tonight’s soup:
I put in about a tablespoon and a half of olive oil into my chili pot. While the oil was warming up, I chopped up a big onion. Once the oil was hot, I started sautéing the onion. As it was cooking, I chopped up one carrot, one celery stalk, some garlic (four cloves) and peeled my butternut squash seeded it and diced it into about 1/2 inch pieces. I put the butternut squash, celery and carrots in next and let the vegetables cook in the bot. I also added a pinch of kosher salt. After the vegetables had cooked a bit, I added the garlic and ginger that I had peeled and minced (about two tablespoons of ginger). Everything smelled amazing as it was cooking.
While the vegetables cooked in the pot, I picked over a cup of dry lentils and washed them in my mesh strainer. I added a quart of chicken stock to the vegetables, and then added the lentils. The stock came to a boil, and then I added a can of San Marzano crushed tomatoes (a 15 ounce can instead of the larger can I was planning on using). I added some freshly ground black pepper, and let everything come up to a boil. Once it was boiling, I turned down the heat, put the lid on top and let everything cook for about 15 minutes. I stirred everything occasionally. I tasted the mixture after 15 minutes had passed to be sure that the lentils were tender.
Once they were, I got out my Vitamix. I carefully scooped a couple of cups of the mixture into the Vitamix (leaving as much broth in the pot as possible – just concentrating on getting the vegetables and lentils into the blender). I filled the blender a little less than half full, and put a clean dish cloth over it in case any steam escaped as I was puréeing the mixture.
I puréed in batches and eventually I transferred everything back into the chili pot and brought the mixture up to temperature again.
In the meantime I chopped up some cilantro and grabbed a couple of croutons to garnish by bowl. The final product made me SO happy. The soup took a little while to make, but the end product was totally worth it.
This soup is going to be fantastic during the Polar Vortex. Stay warm everyone!!