Winter Vegetable & Lentil Stew

I think the easiest way to make something good out of whatever vegetables you have on hand is to make soup.  And it’s great, because I really like soup. I like cooking it. I like eating it. I like that you can make a big pot and put the leftovers in the fridge and have lunches for days. I do a fair amount of professional cooking, and soups and stews are the most obvious choices when I need to feed a mixed group of carnivores-vegetarians-vegans-gluten free – whatevers. It’s pretty simple just to make a big pot of veggie stew, maybe serve it with a green salad and a grain.

Really, one of the main things I like about soup is that its a huge pot of vegetables, so when I have a bowl, I can pat myself on the back for eating healthy things and not Doritos.

These were the vegetables I decided to turn into soup today: winter vegetablesSomething about the sweet, nutty flavor of the parsnips really made this recipe worth righting about here. It was delicious.

We had it for lunch, topped with some parmesan cheese, with a few slices of bread.   winter vegetable and lentil soup

Winter Vegetable and Lentil Stew

Cook Time: 2 hrs.

Makes: a big batch!


  • 2 tbs. extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 leek, sliced in half, rinsed, and then sliced into thin half moons
  • 1 carrot, diced
  • 3 celery ribs, tops included, diced
  • 4 parsnips, diced
  • 1/2 sm. buttercup squash, peeled, seeded, and sliced into 1/2” cubes
  • 1 bunch of swiss chard, roughly chopped
  • 2 c. crushed tomatoes with juice
  • about 13 c. water or stock
  • 1 lb. lentils
  • salt and pepper
  • a splash of apple cider vinegar
  • a pinch of cayenne pepper
  • grated parmesan cheese, for serving


Heat the olive oil in a large soup pot, on medium high heat. Add the carrots, celery, onions, leeks, parsnips, and buttercup squash.  Saute for about ten minutes, til the onions start looking translucent. Add the rest of the ingredients- the tomatoes, water, swiss chard (stems and all!) and lentils, and reduce heat to medium.  Simmer for a few hours, stirring occasionally. Season with salt and pepper to taste, and add the cider vinegar and cayenne if you think it needs a little kick.  To serve, top with grated parmesan.

Heirloom Pumpkin Soup with Grapefruit Marmalade

This bowl of soup has a distinct sense of time and place for me, as is often the case with the thrown-together meals I make from the garden.  The pumpkin is an heirloom rouge vif d’etampes, from Baker Creek Seeds. I’ve been growing their seeds for around six years now, every since I first had a space to grow my own vegetables.

For many years now, I’ve read their catalogue during the dark winter months and put together wonderful assortments of flower and vegetable seeds for my spring order.  I’m sure I’ll continue the ritual again this year, curling up next to the wood stove after dinner, wrapped in my favorite blankets, pouring over the latest seed catalogue and dreaming about pumpkins and zinnias. After so many of these quiet moments shared with that catalogue, it was almost surreal to work at the National Heirloom Exposition this September, put on by Baker Creek Seeds.  I was amazed to see the transformation of this tiny seed company in Missouri into an earth-moving force, a movement that brought together ten thousand people to celebrate the joy in growing your own food.  At the same time, realizing I’ve also come such long way from my first 10×10 raised bed with a few tomato and cucumber plants.  It’s quite inspiring what you can achieve with some hard work.

Heirloom Pumpkin Soup with Grapefruit Marmalade

I’ve never been one for traditionally written out recipes. It’s so much easier to cook using a basic formula – you’ll basically want to start the soup with alliums (onions, leeks, shallots, etc.) and fresh herbs sauteed in whatever kind of fat you like.  Add in whatever roots or winter squash you have lying around in the pantry. I had turnips, pumpkin, sweet potatoes and some leftover mashed potatoes, but if you match the amounts listed below with whatever you have on hand (butternut squash, rutabagas, new potatoes, etc.) the soup should still work.

Then, the really charming part of this dish, the ingredient that makes it different from all of the other squash soups out there, is the addition of some orange zest and grapefruit marmalade. At the Heirloom Expo, Shae from Hitchking to Heaven gave me a beautiful jar of her award winning Meyer Lemon and Pink Grapefruit Marmalade, and I’ve been putting it on everything since then.  So in case you need reminding, citrus season is just a few short months away, and if you have a jar that needs using, it’s time to get to it.  Marmalade is so delicious on buttered english muffins, but the brightness of the grapefruit also adds a vibrant burst of citrus to any kind of type of winter squash or root vegetable.

For this recipe, simmer your winter squash and a tablespoon of marmalade together in some stock for awhile, puree, and stir in a liberal amount of chevre or heavy cream.  We ate this soup for a basic week night dinner with BLTs, but a dish like this can be as fancy as you’d like and would make a wonderful first course for Thanksgiving Dinner.

a written out recipe…

 Serves: 6


  • 2 tbs. extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp. orange zest
  • 1 1/2 c. assorted alliums (I used 4 cloves of garlic, 2 small onions, and 1 large shallot)
  • 4 fresh sage leaves
  • 1 smallish pumpkin, roasted and seeded (see instructions below)*  I ended up with around 2 1/2 c. of prepared pumpkin
  • 1 sweet potato, diced (about 3 c.)
  • 3/4 c. roughly chopped turnips
  • 1/2 c. leftover mashed potatoes, or 1 medium potato
  • 5 c. chicken or vegetable stock
  • 1 tbs. grapefruit marmalade (any citrus is really fine…)
  • 1/2 c. grumbled goat cheese
  • 1/4 c. heavy cream (completely optional, I didn’t use it but I would have if I’d had it in the fridge)
  • 1 tbs. sea salt
  • 1 tsp. cracked black pepper
  • for serving: thinly sliced scallions, a few spoonfuls of plain yogurt or creme fraiche, and some crumbled bacon

In a large soup pot, saute the alliums, orange zest and sage leaves in the olive oil on medium heat for 3-4 minutes.

Add in the sweet potato, turnips, mashed potatoes, and the prepared flesh from the roasted pumpkin. Saute for 4-5 minutes. Pour in stock and bring to a simmer. Add in salt, pepper and marmalade.  Simmer on low heat for an hour or so.

Puree the soup using whatever kitchen appliance you like (blender, immersion blender, food processor).  Return the soup to low heat and stir in the chevre. Whisk gently to melt the chevre into the soup.  Add a splash of heavy cream if you want to make it really rich. Check the seasonings.

Top with scallions, plain yogurt or creme fraiche, and some crumbled up bacon.

*NOTE: The easiest way to cook with pumpkin is to roast it first. Brush off any dirt and put the whole pumpkin on a cookie sheet. Cook at 350 degrees until a paring knife slides easily into the flesh, like checking a baked potato. The cooking times will greatly vary depending on the size of the pumpkin, but a small one will take about 45 minutes to cook all the way through.

Now, out to garden. I’m planting seeds for sweet peas and carrots today. I try to find time each day to grow something beautiful, cook something delicious from the garden, and put something into jars.