A satisfying and simple winter veggie stew

303It was Sunday night.  I needed to make dinner and I had lovely things, but it was one of those nights where the motivation is low and suggestibility is high.  I was already snuggled in watching tv.  I was all set to make toast.  Or cereal.  Or maybe open a can of soup.  But I walked past a winter squash I’ve been meaning to use for weeks!  I felt a familiar pang of shame — what if I waited too long? what if it was already dying?  how long can a winter squash remain neglected without giving up?

So I hit pause on the Tivo, turned on some NPR for background, and headed to the kitchen.  In less than 20 minutes, the soup was cooking.  In about 30 minutes of “do nothing but stir occasionally,” it was done!  I only had to stop watching tv long enough to get it going.

Because I had it, I used:  onion, carrot, parsnips, garlic, celery root, and butternut (or something related to a butternut but larger than the typical long and skinny butternut) squash.

It couldn’t have been simpler.  I peeled and chopped up an onion and set it to cooking with a little salt while I worked on other veggies.  I’d guess I cooked it about 7 minutes to past where the onions release their liquid and get to the point where they get a little brown.  I took it off the heat at this point and stirred in five fat cloves of minced garlic and about 2 tablespoons of tomato paste.  I mixed that in and then put it back on the heat for about a minute.  At that point I added about 1/4 to 1/2 cup of red wine (I would have used white but the red was already open), but you could do a quick deglaze of the pan with water at this point.  I then added one box of stock (32 ounces).  To this I added peeled and sliced carrots and parnsips.  If I had had celery I would have cooked it at the start with the onion, but because I didn’t have it and I did have a large celery root (celeriac), I peeled and chopped up half of it for the soup.  Our “butternut” squash was really large so I used about 2/3 of it.  I peeled it and cubed it and threw it in too.

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At this point it’s just waiting.  I tossed in a bit of thyme, a little sage, and a bay leaf and then brought it to a boil and reduced to a simmer. I set the time for 10 minute intervals so I’d not forget about it.  I’d stir it and check the veggies for tenderness.  At 30 minutes, the squash was soft but the carrots still had some integrity.  I added in just a bit of balsamic vinegar and the juice of one lemon to liven everything up at the end.

Much better than toast, cereal, or a can of soup on a dark, Sunday night in front of the tv.


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