Sunday, November 18, 2012

What's Cooking? A Smoky Soup

Thanksgiving is this week. Some of you may know that this is my favorite holiday. Why, you might ask? Well, as I've voiced before (and you should really go read this, because it's pretty good!), Thanksgiving is the quintessential American harvest holiday. It celebrates everything a locavore loves - the season's best in edibles. It's a holiday where we can cease lamenting the lack of summer fruits or the spring weather, and can appreciate the beauty of late fall, when the weather becomes crisp and the leaves have just fallen. If at no other time, this is the perfect point in the year to be mindful of your food choices, giving thanks back to both those who spend their lives growing your food and to the environment that has an amazing resilience in supporting our agriculture.

For me, Thanksgiving also has another significance. It marks my 'vegeversary' (sure, why not?). This year, I hit my thirteenth year without meat. Yes, half my life now. And similarly, it is the fifth year mark of an on-again/off-again vegan lifestyle. Because food and diet are such a large part of my life, this time of year becomes extraordinarily contemplative. I've spent many a blog post musing on why veg, and how eating mindfully is a way to advance my own life of living with a smaller ecological footprint. But I also think that this presents an unparalleled opportunity to be adventurous, to try something new, and to spice up any old favorites. With my usual stock of winter squashes, some beet tops, a stash of lentils in the cupboard, and a sudden turn of weather, there has really been only one food group on my mind...

Smoky Squash Soup
1 medium butternut squash, seeded and quartered
1/2 onion, coarse chop
3 cups vegetable broth
2/3 cup red lentils
1 cup chard or beet greens (optional)
1/2 tsp Spanish smoked paprika
Salt to taste

1. Roast squash and onion in an oiled (olive, please) pan at 375F, for about 35-45 minutes until very soft. Flip halfway through roasting period. 
2. Meanwhile, heat vegetable broth until boil. Lower to medium and add lentils. Cook until soft and then turn off the stove.
3. Once squash is cooked, remove from oven, scoop insides into the pan with broth and lentils. Add onions, beet greens (optional), salt, and paprika. Puree until smooth with an immersion blender, or use a food processor/blender.
4. Serve warm with homemade croutons!

Find other comforting and healthy treats on Wellness Weekend.

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