Lentil Butternut Squash Soup

How great is soup? I dunno about you, but I could eat soup all the time.  Chili, Bisque, Pho, Chowder, I love them all.  Soup is easy, often healthy, and the combinations are endless!  It has been one cold January this year, and a big bowl of hot soup always hits the spot.

I work three jobs, so I have maybe two afternoons/evenings a week to spend time in the kitchen.  Because of my busy schedule, I like to prepare things that are just as delicious reheated.  Believe it or not, this soup is actually even more tasty the next day!  The vegetables absorb the flavors as they develop, and the coconut milk just gets creamier.  You can even pop some of it in the freezer if you’d like.

 

This soup is made in the crockpot, and seriously could not be easier.  Squash, veggies, broth, lentils, seasonings, done!  A bit of planning ahead is required as it take 6-8 hours to cook, but that means you’ll come home to a delicious, ready to eat dinner.

Have I mentioned that this soup is also gluten free, dairy free, AND, vegan?  Which means you can prepare this for just about any of your friends, no matter what dietary restrictions they have.

Most of you have probably heard that turmeric is good for you, but do you know why?  Turmeric contains a compound called curcumin, which is a powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory.  Free radicals (unpaired electrons) are the known cause of aging and many diseases.  These electrons attack organic substances in our bodies such as DNA and protein, slowly tearing them down.  Because of curcumin’s structure, it has the ability to neutralize these free radicals, as well as encourage the body’s natural antioxidant enzymes.  Kinda makes you want to sprinkle turmeric into everything huh?

 

 

Ingredients
1 medium butternut squash
1 large white onion
6-7 carrots
4-5 large stalks of celery
4 Cups vegetable broth
1 T apple cider vinegar
1 13.5 oz can coconut milk
4 cloves of garlic
1/2 Cup brown lentils
1/2 Cup red lentils
1 tsp ground sage
1 T turmeric
4 Cups raw spinach
salt and pepper to taste

Directions
Bring a pot of water to a boil and place the lentils in it.  Allow them to boil for five minutes, then remove from heat and allow to soak in water until you need them later.  This step is very important!  Lentils, like most legumes, contain raffinose sugars that are not digestible.  These sugars are responsible for the uncomfortable bloating that can occur after eating legumes.  Boiling them and allowing them to soak extracts these sugars.

Peel and cut the squash into medium sized chunks.  A potato peeler will do the trick, make sure to scoop out the seeds and stringy bits from the middle.  These can be placed in the bottom of the crock pot.

Next chop the onion, carrots and celery.  The size you chop them is really personal preference, I prefer a larger pieces to give the soup more texture.  Layer these on top of the squash in the crock pot.

Pour the broth, cider, and coconut milk over top of the vegetables.  I use ‘Better than Bouillon’ vegetable base instead of cartons of broth.  You can also make your stock from scratch if you want to be fancy.

Mince the garlic, and sprinkle over top of the vegetables.  Crush the garlic with the flat side of a knife for easy peeling.

Remove the lentils from the water and rinse, place them in the crock pot.

Sprinkle seasonings over top.

Save the spinach for when the soup is done, you’ll stir it in just before serving it.

You have a couple options when it comes to the cooking time, you can cook it on high for two hours then low for four, or low for eight hours.  Feel free to experiment further if you’d like, these are just the tried and guaranteed methods.

The soup will naturally combine  as it cooks, but I do like to give it a stir when there’s about an hour left if possible.

When the soup is done, stir in the spinach and add a little water if necessary.

Keep the soup in the refrigerator for 4-5 days, can portion and freeze as well.

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