A little chopping and stirring is always therapeutic for me, giving me time to ponder my next move in life, and gain some inspiration in the process. This flavor and protein-packed soup is meant to warm, nourish and energize the body and spirit. The caramelized sweetness of the roasted squash contrasts the bite from the sausage and the toothsome lentils, making this a complex and hearty fall dish. I say, make up a pot, dish yourself a bowl and enjoy it while flipping through the pages of something beautiful (Vogue? Food and Wine? The Style Section of the Sunday Time? The Joy of Cooking?... I personally chose an old favorite, Cooking for Mr. Latte by Amanda Hesser. I've always loved this book and am going to try making her oven fried chicken tonight... I'll report back on the results.). Who knows what muse might be awakened?
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 butternut squash, halved and seeded
1 large onion, diced
4 carrots, diced
2 sweet Italian chicken sausages, chopped*
1 tablespoon fresh thyme, chopped
2.5 cups French lentils
8 cups chicken or veggie stock
Kosher salt and fresh pepper to taste
*Veggie friends please note: the sausages are totally optional. I just love the depth of flavor a sausage gives to the soup, and they make soups and stews more salable as Dude Food in this house.
1) Pre-heat your oven to 425F. Place your halved and seeded squash on a baking sheet and rub with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Roast for 45 minutes, or until fork tender. Remove from oven and allow to cool, then peel and chop into rough chunks.
2) Heat the remaining oil in a large soup pot or Dutch oven. Add the onion and saute until translucent, about 10 minutes. Add the carrots and continue to saute for another 5 minutes, then add the sausage and thyme, and stir well. Allow to cook for about 5 to 10 more minutes, until the sausage begins to brown slightly. Finally, add the chunks of roasted squash and the lentils.
3) Cover completely with stock. Stir mixture until well-combined.
4) Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer, and cook the soup covered, over low heat until the lentils are tender, about 1 hour. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Enjoy and be inspired!