Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Curried Lentil and Butternut Squash Soup

My dear friend Peggy invited me to an Ethiopian restaurant in Overland Park, The Blue Nile. (Let me just say now, for you skimmers, SO YUMMY! And they have a lunch buffet, so you can try a whole bunch of different things.) Anyway.  Since our ministry team returned, over a year ago, I'd been hearing the good (and bad) of Ethiopian food and was braced and very excited for my first exposure.  I love curry, and though I do not handle spicy well, I was ready to suck it up in the name of a wonderful shared experience with a friend.

Well, I loved it. All of it. The richness of the flavors, tenderness of the meat, the unique and yummy injera bread (that I will venture to make some day)... it was all so good.  For me, the thing that stole the show, was the soup!  Soup!  I found myself craving it the following day.  I attempted to ignore it but the craving persisted.  Time for a Google search: "lentil curry butternut squash soup ethiopian" and with a little tweaking, I came up with something close to what warmed us that day.  It probably would have helped if I had red lentils instead of just using the green and yellow that were in my pantry (I had lentils in my pantry! I was rather proud of myself).  And I used frozen butternut squash instead of preparing it fresh (those things are a serious pain in the butt to peel... I'll let the green giant do the work for me.)  If there's some secret, someone please share.

I took a bowl to Peggy and she said she practically inhaled it, so it's passed the 2nd party test!  Here you go - my quick and easy version.

Curried Lentil and Butternut Squash Soup
3 T olive oil
2 T butter (unsalted if you have it)
1 onion, finely chopped
1 carrot, finely chopped
1 rib celery, finely chopped
16 oz bag frozen butternut squash
2 t crushed garlic from a jar or 2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 t crushed ginger from a jar or minced peeled ginger
1 T curry powder, Madras (yellow)
1 c red lentils, rinsed and picked over
1 quart (box) chicken or vegetable stock
1 T fresh lemon juice
1 t lemon zest (optional, but probably my favorite part)

Cilantro, chopped

Heat oil and butter in large pot over medium head, cook onion, carrot, celery, garlic and ginger until softened and starting to brown 15-20 minutes. Stir in curry powder, stir frequently for 2 minutes to heat curry through, then add stock, lentils, and partially thawed squash (let it thaw on the counter while you prep everything else).  Simmer, covered, until lentils are tender 20-40 minutes. Stir in lemon juice and zest, salt and pepper to taste.

Serve over steamed rice, sprinkle with cilantro and a dollop of sour cream or plain greek yogurt.

Modified from: http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Curried-Squash-and-Red-Lentil-Soup-351416#ixzz1BS0BIP00

Friday, January 14, 2011

Taco Seasoning

Want to know why Lawry's Taco Seasoning is so much better than those other brands?

Cocoa Powder

Yup.  It's official.  Chocolate makes everything better.