Mushy Food Diet Part 2: Red Lentils and Butternut Squash Soup


The answer to my eating conundrum lies in the food processor

Saturday, I woke up (after not much sleep) very sick of sweet things. I was scheming about what I might eat. So, after a smoothie breakfast, overcooked macaroni and cheese (room temp :() for lunch, and a shake tasting with my buddy Jackie who came over to keep me company (coffee and hot fudge and the Chocolate Elephant Monkey with ICE CREAM this time) I was actually pretty full. However, I was sick of sitting still.

I made the mistake of over doing it on Saturday. Darn those pain meds, they make you think you’re doing better than you actually are. I did my usually saturday cleaning and every-load-of-laundry I could find in the house. I swept, I dusted, I made the bed, I WAS BUSY. Didn’t feel so hot later though.

But for dinner I was bound and determined to have some real food darnit! I had taken out chicken breast for Matt and decided I was going to do something with it. I trimmed it, pounded it so that it was all the same thickness and then cut into strips. I’m not exactly sure what I was doing, maybe it was the pain meds again but I can’t say I had an actual plan. I had baked chicken in the oven with Cesar dressing before and for some reason this was calling to me. So, I slathered the chicken in Cesar, covered it in tin foil and baked it at 375 degrees for like 20 minutes. Not sure what I was thinking here.

I then made a whole box of instant mashed potatoes (don’t judge), and opened a can of sliced beets and french style green beans and cooked those in the microwave with some salt, pepper and Smart Balance. This was not glamour eating here I realize, but whats a girl to do?! I wanted a VEGETABLE darnit!

I checked on the chicken and it was cooked but not looking appetizing so I removed the foil, turned on the broiler and broiled both sides. This is what I should have done originally as it was thin chicken but I wasn’t quite myself. Poor Matt, he came out saying dinner smelled great. I took the chicken and put it in the food processor and pulsed it until it was fine. As soon as I looked down I knew what I had done. I turned to Matt who was half way done with his dinner; “the chicken is dry isn’t it?” “Yeah,” he says with an apologetic look on his face. Well this wasn’t a big deal to me. I just took some of the lovely juice from the bottom on the pan and pureed it right in! Then I pureed the beets and green beans.

As I came out with my plate of mushy food Matt realized “your basically making baby food.” Exactly. I told him how my mother made all of our (my 2 sisters and myself) baby food. Whatever the family was eating, got put in a food processor and pureed. He said if we do that with our kids some day, they will be the most spoiled children in the world. No kidding. They’ll be eating smoked salmon ravioli and braised lamb shanks. No wonder I’ve never been a picky eater. 😉

OK, moving on! So Sunday I decided I would make lentils. Now the old family way I make lentils is not like a soup. It’s an entire hearty, healthy dish. I figured I could puree it. I happened to have RED lentils on hand thanks to my buddy Ed Hyder and they cooked SO much differently. For those of you who have never had lentils, they are usually small, round, flat and a slate greyish color. They are a legume, very similar to a pea only they have almost no flavor. This means they lend themselves well to any dish as they assimilate flavors. Cook them with some beef broth and throw them in with your taco meat to stretch the filling inexpensively. 😉

Usually with traditional lentils, they plump up slightly and become soft but maintain their shape. The red lentils? mushy. weird by my standards but totally worked for what I was planning.

Lindsey’s Lentils

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb bag of lentils (I had red) rinsed and picked over for foreiegn objects
  • 1 lb of lean smoked sausage (I used turkey kielbasa one of my favorites)
  • 4 medium carrots peeled and chopped
  • 2 medium onions chopped
  • 3 stalks of celery whipped dry and diced
  • 5 cloves of garlic minced
  • 1/2 can of tomato paste
  • 1 cup of good, slightly sweet red wine (I used my favorite standby, Gnarly Head Old Vine Zin. It’s inexpensive and delicious)
  • 2 cups (plus more if needed) low sodium beef or chicken broth
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 tsp dried rosemary
  • 1 tsp dried sage
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • olive oil

Directions:

  • Heat a large cast iron dutch oven over medium high heat. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
  • Working close to pot, add about 1 tablespoon of olive oil once pot is heated. Dice kilebasa and add to pot, sauteing and stirring occasionally 3-4 minutes until caramelized (mmmm).
  • next chop and add vegetables in order, adding as you go and stirring occasionally until you get to the garlic. Add garlic and saute for 30 seconds.
  • Add tomato paste and stir to coat.
  • Add wine and deglaze the pan, strapping up any bits on the bottom.
  • Add broth and herbs.
  • bring to a boil, stir and cover.
  • Place in oven and cook for 40-60 minutes or until lentils are plump and tender and vegetables are tender. You may have to add more liquid.

Sorry I didn’t take a picture of this, it didn’t look to appetizing. Apparently, for whatever reason, the red lentils cook MUCH faster than regular lentils. I went to check on them after a little more than half an hour. I was shocked they looked cooked and BEAUTIFUL…until I went to stir it and the lentils disintegrated! It was still good but I had to puree it farther to get out the chunks of kielbasa and vegetables.

If you have never had lentils, THIS is the way to do it! This dish is a little sweet, very complex and hearty. 

NEXT, I made a favorite of mine and my nephews. This soup is loved by all who have ever had it. I’ve never served this to ANYONE that didn’t love it. The best part? You can make it vegetarian or even VEGAN very easily! vegetarian? Use vegetable broth instead of chicken. Vegan? Leave out the butter and milk/cream. Want to make it super decadent? Add 1 cup of butter (eek!) 2 cups of heavy cream and 1 pound of CRAB MEAT (insert fainting here). This is the original way I had this soup and BOY was it in impressive! This version is much healthier and it fit the bill for me to eat last night! PLUS I got to use my shiny new Christmas present; my All-Clad roasting pan!!! Does the man know me or what?! 😉

Butternut Squash Soup

Ingredients:

  • 1 large or 2 medium butternut squash (I used 3 small)
  • 2-4 cups low sodium chicken or vegetable broth 
  • 1-2 cups of milk OR light cream (you can go as light or heavy as you prefer)
  • 1 Tbs of honey
  • 4 tbs.-1 stick of butter (again, your choice. I used about 4)
  • 2 Tbs. garlic powder (do not ask me why but this is key)
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • *olive oil

Directions:

Cut your squash in half lengthwise and scoop out seeds as such:(I had to have Matt assist with this picture. I’m not that gifted)

It is your choice, and I highly recommend you do so, to roast the seeds and use them as a garnish. They come out crunchy and add a wonderful hearty, salty note to the soup. Simply remove seeds from squash filling, rinse under cold water in a sieve and pat dry, laying out on a paper towel or dish cloth. toss with olive oil, salt and pepper, and spread out evenly on a roasting pan. Roast with squash at 400 degrees for about 3-6 minutes. They should be golden brown around the edges (be careful, sometimes they pop like popcorn! that means they are done!) remove and sprinkle on finished soup. They also make a great snack 😉 (I didn’t do this as I can’t eat them 😦 but I encourage you to do so!)

Next arrange facing up in a roasting pan with 1 inch of water on the bottom. I roasted mine facing down to save time but roasting up makes the flesh caramelize and gives it wonderful flavor. simple drizzle with olive oil and use fingers to coat inside surface evenly. drizzle with honey and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Roast squash at 400 degrees for 40-60 minutes or until fork inserted into thickest part goes in easily. You want the squash tender not hard.

Remove from the oven and let cool 10-15 minutes!

Now you can save lots of time and frustration, unless your weird like me and don’t mind it, by buying pre-peeled squash or pre-cut. You can steam or roast it but I like to peel it myself and AFTER they have been roasted.

Once cooled, cut in half horizontally separating the top dense half from the bottom hollow half like so: C|D (It was the best illustration I could think of!)

Using a small sharp pairing knife, CAREFULLY slice the skin off of the squash. Cut into chunks and add to the food processor (if you have an immersion blender, you can use this as well, or else a blender works wonderfully and before I owned any of these things, smashing it in the pan with the liquid using a potato masher works well too 😉 )

 

Puree, adding small amounts of broth to make it smoother. Add the pureed squash to a large pot over medium heat.

Add the rest of the ingredients and stir to combine. Serve. MMMMMM

There are 2 things to tip you off that this is an old photo:

1. there are yummy roasted seeds on top

2. there is wine

I can have neither of these things at the moment 😦

As I felt bad for not leaving much for Matt in the fridge in terms of un-pureed left overs, I decided to make him wonderful appetizer we (mostly he) made for Thanksgiving consisting of crescent rolls, fig & walnut jam, sharp cheddar cheese and ham. We made these out of the triangles at Thanksgiving and they were inhaled within 2 minutes. I decided to roll this as I had seamless crescent rolls I had to use.

These came out OK but a bit raw in the middle so I would probably have cooked them longer. ( you know WHAT?! I should have just kept them laid out flat! That would have worked! Silly Lindsey!)

But wait what are these? Nope, can’t tell you 😉 it was a little experiment I tried to let dissolve in my mouth. They came out well but eating them didn’t go quite as I had planned. Very frustrating >:(.

Well tonight is more mushy left overs. I’m still taking suggestions and I have plans to make a cold cucumber avocado soup later this week 🙂 I’ll keep you posted. I can’t wait to EAT food again, hopefully in time for my Birthday, if not Valentine’s Day!

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About Lindsey @ trail to train

I'm a (somewhat) normal girl with slightly unusal ideas about everything. I do fitness my way because thats the only way I know how and my extensive mishmashed knowledge of food and cooking to make great, fast, healthy meals.
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