“I Need to Eat Better” Soup- Lentil, Spinach, and Roasted Butternut Squash Soup featuring Something from Nothing Vegetable Broth

I’m trying to come up with a new soup recipe for dinner tonight.

Hopefully, this soup will be SO delicious, it will help be break my fried food (undeniably delicious) addiction. Yeah, I know this is asking a lot of a simple soup but Good Grief, I need some help! I consider it a monumental battle won if I can make it out of the Mexican grocery store with only the tortillas and produce that I intend to buy and leave the chicharrones behind. Many, many battles have been lost recently.

Sometimes a bit of good advice you once heard is all you need to start that ball rolling toward better habits (or if you are me, away from the french fries and onion rings). For example- I’ve heard that if you really want a great vegetable broth, you’d be smart to freeze vegetable scraps and make your own. Maybe a nice, homemade vegetable broth will help this new soup idea become a winning recipe.

Over about three weeks I have been tossing scraps into a bag that has sat in my freezer. That asparagus we grilled? The snapped-off ends went into the bag. In went the onion trimmings, parsley, spinach and mushroom stems, carrot peelings, as well as the  bits from the beets, cauliflower and broccoli we  boiled, roasted or sauteed. Everything finally found its way into the stock pot of water this morning to simmer along with a bay leaf, salt and pepper.

Hopefully, I will have a great base for tonight’s soup. In the meantime, my house smells great! Maybe that is a good sign…

Evening update:

Oh yeah, this soup is DEE-LISH! And it was definitely worth it to make that vegetable broth… The pre-cooked lentils from Trader Joe’s refrigerator section are better than if I made my own (I cannot seem to cook these properly… so frustrating). Combined with pre-chopped butternut squash that took only 45 minutes at 400 degrees to roast up all caramelized and tender, and finishing this soup with bagged baby spinach brings this soup into weeknight dinner speed.

I will make this soup again… Even if it isn’t as good as fried stuff. Like chicharrones.

Don’t look at the squash- I left it in the oven too long. I said, “Don’t look!!” It still tasted great, though.

Lentil, Spinach, and Roasted Butternut Squash Soup

  • one onion, diced
  • 4-6 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 can or 1/2 of a 17.6 oz package of steamed lentils
  • 2 cups fresh spinach leaves
  • 1 lb uncooked, chopped butternut squash
  • 4 tsp olive oil, divided
  • salt, spices to taste

-Preheat oven to 400; on a baking sheet, toss squash with 2 teaspoons of the oil and sprinkle with salt and your choice of spices (I used curry and chili powder… it was great!). Roast squash for about 45 minutes or until soft but not mushy.

-While squash is roasting, cook onions in the remaining 2 teaspoons of oil in a medium pot over medium heat. Stirring frequently, the onions should become nice and caramelized by the time the squash has finished roasting.

-Once onions are lightly caramelized, add to the same pot the broth, lentils and spinach and bring to a simmer; add the squash when it is done roasting. Stir, adjust seasonings (needs salt, maybe?) and serve!

Makes about 4 servings of really tasty, really good for you soup, and it was very nice with toast and sliced fruit.

My reward- about 4 quarts of vegetable broth

Want really good vegetable broth, too?

  • Throw vegetable scraps into a zip top freezer bag.
  • When the bag has a variety of trimming or your patience has had it with the bag of junk in the freezer, empty the bag into a large pot and cover with about one gallon of water.
  • Simmer for anywhere from one to four hours- another option would be to use a slow cooker for this job.





Overnight Stock in the Slow Cooker -and- World’s Best and Easiest Tortilla Soup Recipe!!

IMG_9680Costco’s Rotisserie Chicken has its own Facebook fan page, I kid you not. There is a good reason why- for $4.99 you get close to a 3.5 pound, nicely roasted bird with better tasting meat than the pre-made, pre-sliced, supermarket fridge section fodder. While it isn’t organic or”free range,” (a nearly unregulated term), it does provide a whole bunch of “clean eating” protein.

about two pounds of meat

From this 3.5 lb bird came a little over 2 pounds of meat… and the skin, bones and junk left over? DON’T THROW IT AWAY!!

If you want delicious, home made soups but don’t have half a day at home to make stock on the stove, your slow cooker is your ace in the hole! I’ve never tried this method, and have let the chicken carcass simmer for anywhere from 2 to 5 hours on my stovetop, and wanted to try this method for once. Is it easier with the slow cooker?



Here’s all of the non-meat leftovers- about 1.5 pounds of carcass, in the slow cooker and covered with water to about an inch from the top of the crock…

This muck sat on low for about 12 hours overnight. In the morning I put a pot in the sink, the strainer in the pot, strained the broth, put it in the fridge, tossed the bones in the trash, and washed out the crock. Bonus- if you are trying to cut calories, the fat will float to the top of the pot and solidify, just scoop it off for fat-free stock.

This was by far the easiest and tasted like any of the best broths I’ve made before. I’d say I ended up with close to just under a gallon of broth, too. Broth that tastes better than from a can or carton and nearly free to boot? Can’t beat that with a stick!


Wonder what the difference between a Broth and a Stock? Stock is long simmered and has bones, basically. Click here to read about it at TheKitchn.com

As for The World’s Best Yet Easy Chicken Tortilla Soup recipe… turns out I don’t have any salsa, so the soup will be in tomorrow’s post. Whoops.