March 2, 2010

Winter Squash, Red Lentil, and Chickpea Stew


Can I tell you a secret? This winter I made a discovery born completely out of pure, unadulterated laziness. One of my most abhorred kitchen tasks is peeling butternut squash. I hate the thick skin, the irregular shape. Just writing about it my nose has assumed a position of crinkled-up-in-annoyance. See, I don’t even like to think about it. Which is a shame, really, because I love the stuff once the hard work is done. That is why, when I once saw butternut squash already peeled and chopped in the grocery store, it was the kind of convenience food I could really get behind. When I didn’t see it again, though, I decided to just stop peeling. That’s right. Whether roasting (which Sara Rose convinced me was a-ok) or chopping up for a soup, I just left the skin on. What’s a little bit of extra fiber?

And that, my friends, is the only way I could bring myself to make this vegetarian winter stew. And it’s a good thing I found a work-around, because I really loved this, rich as it is with red lentils and topped with a smattering of chopped peanuts, yogurt, and cilantro. It’s the sort of decadent yet basically healthy food that gets me through winter without consuming a truckload of extra sharp New York State cheddar cheese and 40 gallons of tea.

Come to think of it — holy hey, it’s March! Did you read your Astrologyzone horoscope? Are you hanging in, or so deeply sick of winter that if you have to pull on your tights once more you just might yip?

Winter Squash, Red Lentil, and Chickpea Stew
adapted from Better Homes and Gardens
Serves 4-6

1 tablespoon olive oil
3 medium carrots, sliced 1/2 inch thick
1 cup chopped onion (1 large)
1 pound pumpkin or winter squash, peeled (or not), seeded, and cut into 1-inch cubes
1 15-ounce can chickpeas (garbanzo beans), rinsed and drained
1 cup red lentils, rinsed and drained
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
1 tablespoon lime juice
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
4 cups chicken or vegetable broth
1/4 cup chopped peanuts (optional)
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
plain nonfat yogurt

In a large Dutch oven or soup pot, heat oil over moderately-high heat. Add onions and carrots and cook until beginning to soften. Stir in broth, winter squash, lentils, chickpeas, tomato paste, ginger, cumin, salt, turmeric, and pepper. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer until squash is tender and lentils are beginning to fall apart, about 15 minutes. Stir in lime juice, and ladle into bowls, topped with cilantro, yogurt and peanuts.

Related Posts with Thumbnails


  • Paige: This looks awesome and I’m totally intrigued by the skin-on squash thing. The only thing that makes prepping butternut squash doable for me is a serrated peeler (mine is the red one by Zyliss).5 years ago

  • Samantha Angela @ Bikini Birthday: Isn’t the skin of the squash tough to chew?5 years ago

  • katrina: Yum what a great recipe.

    I am totally. over. winter! Back in November I was excited to start with stews, soups and general coziness. But four months on, my skin has taken on a bluish hue and I am craving sunshine! It has been gorgeous where I live today and yesterday, and I am sincerely hoping this lovely weather will stick around! Like a true Brit, I am already dreaming of barbecues and beer gardens…x5 years ago

  • Kristina: I’m actually doing a lot better with winter than I usually do– it must be all the projects I’m doing that are keeping me going.

    While I don’t mind peeling winter squash (they’re a walk in the park compared to potatoes, or beets!), you might try buying frozen squash puree sometime. While it does limit your options somewhat (no roasting!) it’d be fine for this soup. Sounds delish!5 years ago

  • lesley@homemade grits: good grief that looks yummy!!5 years ago

  • Paige, I’ve been meaning to get a serrated peeler but it just hasn’t happened yet.

    Samantha, I made this with an acorn squash, and the skin really softened up. There were a few places were it was a little chewy, but for the most part I didn’t notice.

    Katrina, Beer gardens and barbecues! That sounds terrific.

    Kristina, I’m a HUGE fan of frozen pureed squash. SUCH a bargain and super delish.5 years ago

  • Cadi: Does the rind get soft enough to eat? Even on butternut squash? I’m so curious now, I forsee the one on my counter turning in to this lovely stew this weekend.

    I too am COMPLETELY over winter! I’ve had the sweetest yellow floral dress quietly crying for lack of wear in my closet for WEEKS now – and it would look silly with tights, so there it hangs until warmer days. I’m dying for the first beautiful weekend so we can barbecue and make sangria on our patio…5 years ago

  • Teresa: This sounds awesome and has some of my favorite things in it. Since it snowed today {and I live in the south!} I think stew might be in order this week.5 years ago

  • Susan: Hi Sarah,
    It’s Susan (from HCHS). I *finally* figured out Google Reader and I just added your blog so I can remember to read it, and begin to comment like a proper reader. My boyfriend made butternut squash soup the other day and left the skins on and it was great! At first I scolded him for not knowing to take it off, then realized that he unwittingly discovered a great shortcut.
    Susan5 years ago

  • Anna: Oh, this recipe has me with the ginger and the turmeric and cilantro! I have to try it. Sounds like such a fresh take on a winter soup. Have you tried any of the recipes from “Love Soup”? It has a recipe for a soup with lots of greens and ginger (enough ginger that the soup is a little hot from it) that I really liked. Speaking of soup, I’m still dying to try Richard Olney’s garlic soup, which has been making the blog rounds. It was snoring away quietly in my “Simple French Food” all this time, and I didn’t even know it!5 years ago

  • Anna: Oops…ha-ha. Snoring quietly, I said. Don’t know if that’s really possible. I’ve had a long day!5 years ago

  • Elizabeth: I tried a similar recipe a month ago with peeled squash. However, during the cooking process my red lentils seemed to completely dissolve/disappear. Do you find this happens often with red lentils…should I be adding them later in the cooking process?5 years ago

  • Christine: This stew look delish and it’s now on my menu to make this week. I had planned on making another I found on your blog about a year ago – red lentils with carmelized onions and lemon that I can’t get enough of this winter!

    Thanks for your plethora of warming recipes (have you considered putting them together as a cookbook?!)5 years ago

  • Laura: I always cut any squash in half, roast it first, then simply scoop the flesh from the skin to use in a recipe. I love all things squash-y or pumpkin-y and that’s my work around for avoiding peeling. :o)5 years ago

  • Barbara: I never peel butternut squash – especially those that I grow myself since I know exactly what is on them! After roasting the skin gets so soft you can either scoop out the flesh if you serve it in wedges or just mash it all together for soups or to make muffins.

    Your soup sounds delish – I make something similar but with a hint of coconut milk which gives it an amazing creamy and slightly sweet taste.5 years ago

  • Laura GF: I’m even lazier and head to Wegmans, where they sell cute little tubs of squash all peeled and cut up. I love the taste of squash, can’t stand the work, so this is perfect for me. Here’s a favorite recipe I just made with it last week:

    I’m excited to see your recipe too — it looks like a great one to try!5 years ago

  • Cadi, Well Susan’s comment (below yours) makes it sound like the rind of a butternut squash does get soft enough to eat. Again, I used acorn, but I think of that as being just as tough.

    Teresa, Snow in the south! How exciting!

    Hey Susan! Good to see you in these parts! Aren’t unwitting discoveries the very best?

    Anna, Love Soup — that’s by Anna Thomas, right? I don’t have that cookbook but have stumbled across some of her writing and completely swooned.

    Elizabeth, Yes, red lentils really don’t hold their shape the same way green or French do. They can tend to fall apart, and personally, I don’t think of that as overcooking them, I just think that’s sort of what they do. Embrace it!

    Christine, Oooh, I haven’t made that red lentil soup recipe since I first posted it. Maybe it’s time for a revisit. As for a cookbook…well, maybe someday. :)

    Laura, A brilliant workaround!

    Barbara, So funny you should mention coconut milk, because as I was typing out the recipe I thought, “Mmm…you know what would really take this to the next level?” And there it is — you’ve already done it!

    Laura, Oh, I love roasted squash salads. There’s one I love from Body + Soul that’s got lot of arugula in it and a maple vinaigrette. Yum.5 years ago

  • WannaBePinkTeri: I’m doing a “no meat” week next week…and this Stew is just the thing I need to make to bring in my lunches! Hurray for perfect timing!!5 years ago

  • beth: it’s certainly a chore, so thanks for the tip on roasting before peeling! have you tried this butternut salad from orangette? i made it once for my meat-loving (meaning garbanzo-averse) parents, and even they loved it!5 years ago

  • Jackie: Definitely going to make this next week — that is, unless it’s too warm for soup! :) Wishful thinking….

    I went to put on my standard black tights the other day for work and met with a deep sigh. I stuffed ’em back in my drawer and pulled out a teal pair instead. So tired of tights, but at least we can include color! :)5 years ago

  • lisa: i gave up meat for lent, and i kind of want to make this this weekend! this might be the first time ever i’ve hoped a cold snap would stick around a little longer!5 years ago

  • Traci: My husband and I just made this tonight, and we loved loved loved it!!! Thank you for the recipe!5 years ago

  • Bridget: wow. delicious! i made this and ate it for days! thanks for posting!5 years ago

  • Melissa: I’m a chickpea lover! Thanks for the recipe!5 years ago

  • natira: What a lovely recipe, I can’t wait to try it; so many of my favorite things all in one pot. So glad to have come across your lovely space here.5 years ago

  • Carly: Made it this weekend to combat monsoon season in NY and loved it. Loved it even more on day two when it thickened up, with some toasted pita. Thanks for sharing!5 years ago

  • Mary's Dwellings: I LOVE this recipe. I made it back when you first posted it, and loved it so much that I recommended it to all my family. With the cold weather here, I’d like to make it again, but am toying with the idea of using the slow cooker while I’m at work. Has anyone tried this? Does it turn out well, or does it turn to mush?4 years ago

  • Rachael: You posted this so long ago but I was looking for butternut squash recipes as fall is beginning. Your blog is always my first go-to because you know how to cook on a budget. Made it for my roommates and everyone loved it. Thanks!3 years ago

  • Leaning into the Light « Pink of Perfection: […] out their seeds. I cubed the acorn squash and cooked it with tender red lentils and turmeric in a stew, but the pumpkin fell apart and could be scooped out of its skin, as soft and formless as a puree. […]3 years ago

Add a comment

Food is the most primitive form of comfort.
- Sheila Graham