Cold weather has a way of slowing us down. A much needed forceful hand guiding us to take note of what matters. The time we take for granted so easily slips away from us in the wind, the schedules, the iMacs and the double shifts of life.
We watch today’s versions of ourselves and our children disintegrate during the night. We wake to find we are all new people in the morning. In new light, it seems I have given up coffee and the children no longer need help tying their shoes. This is what we want as parents – children who will grow up to forge lives of their own. Sometimes, I fear we desperately document moments we only know through iPhone photos because we weren’t mentally present to bookmark the memory in our hearts. I know I’m guilty of it, which is why I try to appreciate the snow days, and sick days when they arrive unannounced and always when I’m deadline for a big project. If I wasn’t forced to slow down from time to time, I probably wouldn’t, and I would miss so much.
Last year, I developed recipes for the Omaha Farmers Market. This post is a modified summary of the one I wrote for them. It’s snowing outside, and if you have squash lingering on your counter top and kids you need to feed you might want to make this soup for dinner.
Butternut Squash and Lentil Stew
Heat oil in a Dutch oven over medium heat. Add onion, spices and bay leaves. When the onions soften, after about 5 minutes, add the garlic. Sauté for about 5 minutes more, then add the carrots, and a 1/2 cup water. Cover and let them cook for 10 minutes. Add the butternut squash, tomatoes, and chicken stock. Give it a quick stir, cover and cook on the stove top for about 30 minutes.
Pour yourself a glass of wine. Read a magazine. When 30 minutes is up, add the lentils. Cook for 30 minutes more, then add salt, and freshly ground black pepper to taste. Remove the bay leaves. Toss the kale leaves into the soup pot. They are ready when softened a bit and the color brightens. This should only take a minute or two.
Ladle into bowls, drizzle with olive oil and top with freshly ground black pepper.
You can easily make this dish vegetarian, by using vegetable broth. I also like to squeeze lemon juice into my soup, because I love sour and spicy together. It’s up to you.