Our kitchen counter is covered with five different types of squash, a few steps up from our normal routine of acorn and butternut squash. On my last squash run, I came home with sweet dumpling, delicata, buttercup, acorn, and butternut and plans for all of them, mostly revolving around roasting and soups. And of course I wanted some photos of the squash pile.
Though it’s only November, the temperatures have been chilly and my soup cravings kicked in right away. The thoughts of a comforting bowl of squash soup came to me almost constantly until I finally broke out the slow cooker one evening before going to bed and left the stew to cook overnight. The house smelled fantastic when we woke up in the morning and this made a perfect stew that I even enjoyed for breakfast this morning.
It’s hearty, filling, and healthy with plenty of protein and no added fat, and preparation couldn’t be easier. I soaked the garbanzos for 12 hours then tossed the ingredients into the slow cooker and turned it on Low and left it for about 10 hours. Because slow cookers vary in cooking temperature, keep an eye on the stew and test the beans for tenderness. One of my favorite things about this stew is the opportunity to play with various combinations of spices, and I put together a list of recommendations below, and of course if you come up with some great spice combinations for the stew, please share in the comments!
Slow Cooker Squash Stew with Garbanzo Beans and Red Lentils
Adapted from EatingWell.
Makes 8 servings.
5 to 6 quart slow cooker
medium bowl or pot with lid or pressure cooker
3/4 cup (113 g) dried garbanzo beans
2-1/2 pounds (1.134 kilos) butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into 1-inch cubes
2 large carrots, peeled and sliced into rounds
1 large onion, chopped
1 cup (170 g) red lentils
32 ounces (~1 liter) vegetable stock or broth
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 tablespoon peeled minced fresh ginger
1-1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon saffron or achiote
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 teaspoon salt
2 ounces (59 mil) lime juice
roasted unsalted peanuts, chopped
fresh cilantro leaves, chopped
1. SOAK (choose your method): (No Heat) Pour the dried garbanzo beans into the medium bowl and add water until it is 2 inches (5 cm) above the beans. Allow the beans to soak for 12 hours. Drain and rinse well. (Heat) Boil beans in a heavy pot for three minutes. Remove from heat and set aside for 2 hours, covered. Drain the water and rinse well. (Pressure) Put the beans in pot with water and bring to pressure and cook for 5 minutes. Remove the pot from heat and allow the pressure to drop naturally. Drain the water and rinse well. (Note: Follow the manufacturer’s directions for pressure cookers.)
2. SLOW COOK: Add the beans, squash, carrots, onion, lentils, vegetable broth, tomato paste, ginger, cumin, saffron, ground pepper, and salt to the slow cooker pot. Cover and cook on low for 8 to 10 hours or high for 6 to 8 hours. If your pot has an automatic high/low setting, use that and cook for 8 hours.
3. Stir in the lime juice then serve in bowls, topping each with chopped peanuts and cilantro leaves.
Other Spices to Use
Moroccan: Cumin, chili powder, ground cinnamon, garlic, ground cloves
Indian: Curry powder or garam masala
Mexican: Cumin, chipotle powder or chili powder