Monday, September 17, 2012

Hearty Butternut Squash and Lentil Soup

I have fallen in love, very hard and very fast, with my new pressure cooker. I've never owned one before, but I remember my mom using hers quite frequently and can still remember that little hissing squeal it used to make while it cooked. One of our wedding gifts was a pressure cooker and I finally dug it out of its box a few weeks ago. I'll be honest - I was a little scared of it at first. I mean, we've all heard those same horror stories where someone lost their face or the top blew off and smashed through the ceiling, covering the kitchen in half cooked food particles. Plus, just reading the manual about how it builds up pressure and the valves and releases and all other sorts of things doesn't necessarily make you less scared.

But I decided to give it a try and seriously, I haven't looked back. I use it at least twice a week, mostly for beans or bean soups. Seriously, you can take a bag of dried beans, throw it into the pot with spices and whatever veggies you feel like cutting up, add stock, and in about an hour, you have yourself a delicious, hearty and protein packed meal!

I just threw these ingredients in last night and was pleasantly surprised with how tasty it turned out. It's loaded with protein from the lentils and the split peas and the butternut squash adds just the right amount of tastiness. Everything is always better with a little curry and cumin, and adding a can of light coconut milk at the end just adds that perfect final taste. Oh, and guess what - it takes 30 minutes to cook. That's it. 30 minutes of unwatched cooking time. So you can easily get home from work, throw this in the pot, set your timer, and go about your business until it's done.

So go ahead and dust off the old pressure cooker and give this wonderful hearty soup a try.

Hearty Butternut Squash and Lentil Soup
Serves 8-10

1 cup dried lentils, rinsed and picked over
1 cup split yellow peas, rinsed and picked over
5 cups peeled and cubed butternut squash (this was one medium sized squash for me)
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp fresh ginger, minced
8 cups vegetable broth
1 tsp curry powder
1 tsp cumin powder
salt and pepper to taste
1 (15 oz) can light coconut milk

Place all ingredients other than coconut milk into pressure cooker and stir until combined. Place lid on per manufacturer's directions and turn stove on to high heat. When it starts to whistle and steam starts to escape, lower heat to low/medium (per your directions) and start timer. Cook for 30 minutes at moderate pressure (for me, this is when there is still a little bit of steam and whistle coming from the top). Turn heat off and allow pot to release pressure either on it's own or using the quick release method. Stir in coconut milk and season to taste. Enjoy!