This time of year the internet is flooded with recipes for delicious stews that warm the heart and soul. I stumbled across a few recipes that looked delicious but all of them were meat-based (technically, that is what a stew is... meat and vegetables). So I went on a mission this week to develop a vegetarian version just as warm, comforting, earthy and satisfying as those meaty stews. My delicious version is so simple it can easily be thrown together on a busy weeknight!
I knew the recipe needed to have mushrooms. That would help give it that rich, earthy (umami) flavor that makes a stew so rich. I settled on using a trio of my favorite 'shrooms...portobello, shiitake and oyster. I think it's important to use a variety here, especially if you can get your hands on some wild mushrooms, since they are in season and are much more flavorful.
I also knew I wanted butternut squash (or some sort of autumnal squash) instead of plain old white potatoes in my recipe. The orange color and perfect sweetness of the vegetable adds such brightness and balance to an otherwise blah-looking dish, although you could substitute sweet potatoes as well! You can often find pre-cut butternut squash at the market and that cuts down on prep time!
Lastly, the lentils! They cook right in the same pot, lending the perfect texture and flavor. Even meat lovers will be swooning! Aside from it's amazing flavor, the stew packs a serious nutritional punch (packed with iron, vitamin C, B vitamins, fiber, antioxidants and other important minerals) making it the perfect feel good food!
Autumn Squash, Mushroom and Lentil Stew
- 2 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1 onion chopped
- 1 carrot peeled and chopped
- 1 celery stalk chopped
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- ½ lb. or about 1 ½ cups butternut squash cut into about inch small cubes
- 4 oz. mushroom blend rec portobello, oyster, shiitake sliced
- 1 cup green lentils rinsed of any debris
- 4 cups low sodium vegetable broth
- 1 handful freshly chopped parsley
- 2 bay leaves
- coarse salt
- freshly grated parmigiano reggiano cheese
- In a medium sized soup pot, heat olive oil on medium high heat.
- Add onion, carrots, celery, garlic and pinch of salt and saute for about 5-6 minutes until vegetables begins to soften.
- Add in the mushrooms and saute another 2 minutes.
- Add in the butternut squash and saute another 2-3 minutes.
- Add in the broth, lentils and bay leaves and bring to a boil.
- Lower heat and simmer about 25-30 minutes until lentils and butternut squash have cooked and softened (but not turned to mush).
- Add in chopped parsley and stir.
- Season to taste with salt and pepper.
- Serve with freshly grated parmesan cheese *optional (if vegan omit)