Recipe: Chicken and Quinoa Soup with Cubed Delicata Squash

Soup is fast, easy, cheap, nutritious, and flexible. If you don’t have some of the ingredients, don’t worry: use rice instead of quinoa; pumpkin in place of delicata squash; leftover chicken instead of a frozen chicken thigh. Vary your spices, depending upon what’s in the cupboard and what you like.

To a certain extent, your soup varies each time you make it depending upon what is in your refrigerator. Feel free to experiment, and if the result is not what you expect, well, the dogs are always looking for a handout. But I’m guessing that you’ll like what you made.

Serves 4-6.

Ingredients:

  • 1/3 cup oil (I use light olive oil)
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 cup celery, chopped
  • 2 carrots, cubed, diced or chopped
  • One half of 1 delicata squash – peeled, cut in half lengthwise (I chop off both ends so it’s easier to work with), pulp and seeds scooped out, and flesh chopped into half-inch pieces, which don’t have to look like perfect little squares. Save the other half of the squash for another day of soup. We’re talking a cup or so or chopped squash.
  • 6-10 cups water, depending upon how thin you like your soup
  • 1/3 cup quinoa or other grain, like rice
  • 1/3 cup lentils (I use red, because they disintegrate. But you don’t have to use the lentils at all, if you don’t want to. I do because it adds texture and cheap protein.)
  • 1 heaping teaspoon powdered green curry
  • 1 heaping teaspoon garam masala (optional). Garam masala is made up of equal weight cinnamon sticks, black peppercorns, black cardamom pods, and cloves, ground in your coffee grinder; you can also buy it pre-made)
  • One frozen chicken thigh
  • 1 cup chicken broth or chicken bouillon mixed with 1 cup water (I use Better Than Bouillon – great stuff)
  • 6 fresh sage leaves, chopped, or 1 tsp. dried sage
  • 1 sprig fresh rosemary, chopped (chop just the needles, not the stem), or 1 tsp. dried rosemary

Saute the onions in the oil for five minutes. Add the celery and stir around for five minutes more.

Dump in the carrots, squash, and six cups water. Add the quinoa, lentils, garam masala and curry, and over medium heat, bring the soup to a boil. Turn down the heat to whatever it takes to keep the liquid lightly simmering, but not boiling. Simmer the soup for 30 minutes until the quinoa and lentils are soft.

As the quinoa and lentils cook, they will absorb liquid, and soup will thicken. If you want it this thick, keep it so — but you’ll have to keep an eye on it so it doesn’t scorch. I add water, a cup or two at a time, to keep the mass “soupy.”

Toss in the chicken thigh, and the 1 cup chicken broth or chicken bouillon mixed with 1 cup water, and cover with the soup. Remember, if the soup is getting a little too thick for your liking right now, add more water. Cook the thigh in the soup for 10-15 minutes. Make sure it’s done and not pink inside.

Pull out the chicken, cut it into little pieces, and toss it back into the soup. Just before serving, add the chopped sage and rosemary. Salt to taste.

If you missed the story that goes with this soup, feel free to check out Awash with Squash.

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