Later in the evening one night last week, Dave (better know as “the hub”) and I decided to go out for a light dinner and drink. If you wait until 9:00 in Colorado Springs, or maybe in many smaller cities, your choices are often pizza or burgers… or a hop over to one of the all-night breakfast places. One large brewery nearby stays open until midnight and we ran over there, ordering a glass of white wine for me and a beer for Dave, perusing the menu while we nursed our drinks. This particular food list came equipped with calorie counts and, reading through the long list of available food, I was again flabbergasted by the calories involved in meat dishes versus vegetable and grain meals–especially given the holiday time of year.
Left: last Saturday’s Ginger Cookies. Below right: My current reading stack.
While the burgers and pizzas sounded too tasty, I thought about what time it was, what month it was, and quickly settled on a bowl of excellent clam chowder at 450 calories. Dave opted for a salad with vegetables and chicken. It was all really filling and, even better, we slept well and easily after that, which counts for a lot.
Below–a favorite meat dinner: Mustard Glazed Pork Tenderloin with Sautéed Cabbage, Leeks and Fennel with Caraway and Bacon~~
I have nothing against meat, as you’ll know well if you read the blog often (and see above), but I limit our intake of red meat due to several factors. Cost, calories, fat, health concerns, ecological factors, and preparation time are a few. I also often remember the comment made by a cardiologist friend, “Oh, yeah, eat that red meat; fund my kids’ college education!” Quite a wakeup call. So I’m always on the lookout for the healthier option and it is Meatless Monday, after all.
Just like everyone else, I love a meal that comes together quickly, cheaply, and adore one that leaves my mouth with a laughing buzz as does this potful of happiness.
Above: Tucker keeping me company while I made the soup.
Make some for dinner in under an hour and have it for lunch a few days this week, when you can skip the ubiquitous (insert eye roll), chew forever green salad. Did I say this is easily vegan (use the vegetable broth option), is naturally gluten free, and often gently clears sinuses? You can have your steak or burger with no guilt come Friday night. Try this:
CURRIED BUTTERNUT SQUASH-LENTIL SOUP
This flavorful soup lends itself to variation. Should you have a languishing parsnip, a tiny potato or two, a sweet apple or pear, (and no turnip or carrot, perhaps?) be sure to add these and see what you think. No butternut squash? Try peeled, diced sweet potatoes instead. Only two cups of butternut squash? Increase lentils to a whole cup to thicken the broth. I like it partially puréed and somewhat creamy –lentils and some chopped vegetables visible– but this is also a sturdy chunky entrée for those who like their soups with a little more heft and visible spots for dunking chunks of grilled bread.
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 2 teaspoons minced garlic
- 1 teaspoon minced ginger
- 1 tablespoon curry powder
- 1/4 teaspoon each ground cumin, ground cinnamon, and ground coriander–optional*
- Pinch crushed red or Aleppo pepper
- 1 large onion, diced
- 4 stalks celery, diced
- 2 carrots, diced
- 1 turnip, peeled and diced–optional
- 2 pounds (about 4 cups) diced butternut squash**
- 1/4 cup minced dried apricots (about 8)–optional
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 3/4 teaspoon fresh finely ground black pepper
- 1/2 cup white wine
- 2 quarts vegetable or chicken broth
- 1 quart water or more as needed
- 1/2 cup green or brown lentils, washed and picked over
- 1 cup sliced almonds, toasted–for garnish
Heat the oil in a large soup pot over medium flame. Add garlic, ginger, curry powder, and crushed red pepper; stir for 30 seconds. Add the onion, celery, carrots, turnip, squash, and apricots, if using. Stir and sauté for 5-7 minutes or until ingredients are softening and quite hot. Add wine; let cook down until reduced–2 or 3 minutes. Pour in broth and water; bring to a gentle boil and cook about 10 minutes. Stir in lentils, reduce heat to simmer, and cook about 30 minutes or until everything is tender. Taste and adjust seasonings, especially the curry powder and salt. Purée all, part, or none of the soup. Serve hot garnished with a spoonful of toasted almonds. Good with warm, grilled bread. Pass the black pepper grinder at the table.
*If you’re unsure about using these warm spices, take out of the pot a small ladle of soup and add just a tiny sprinkle of one to taste. Try another…Try them together. Soup is the best place to experiment, but no need to ruin a whole pot.
**I bought peeled and chopped Butternut Squash at Costco for ease of preparation.
Storage: Keeps 3-4 days in the refrigerator or 4-6 months in the freezer in airtight containers or freezer bags.
Wine: Gewurztraminer or perhaps a Viognier. If there’s a Riesling you love and it’s cold, pull that out. Nothing too high in alcohol, please.
If you liked this, you might also like my:
Butternut Squash-Wild Rice Soup
While it might not be TOTALLY true, I often feel as if there’s nothing a pot of soup can’t solve.
(above quote borrowed from facebook feed–courtesy M.A. Oget and Amazon Rainforest Workshops)
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