Sunday, December 30, 2012

Soup and Muffins for a Snowy Day

I've been a shamefully neglectful blogger lately--I can barely lay claim to the title! But with this post, I can at least claim to have made a post every month in 2012.  Do I get a prize?  I do!  Some delicious curried butternut squash lentil soup and fluffy peanut butter muffins!  

Curried Butternut Squash & Red Lentil Soup
The inspiration for this recipe comes from a blog called Yummy Mummy Kitchen. I made just a few changes to the recipe--including using butternut squash puree instead of pumpkin.  We're still working our way through a bumper crop of butternut squashes that at this rate may just last until May!

2 tablespoons olive oil (or a neutral oil if you prefer)
1 small onion, chopped
1 small apple, peeled and chopped
2 teaspoons (or more, if you'd like) curry powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 1/2 cups red lentils
48 ounces (6 cups) vegetable broth
2 cups pureed butternut squash (or pumpkin--you could use a 15 ounce can)
2 tablespoons honey
1/2 cup unsweetened coconut milk (if you don't have coconut milk, you could use regular cow's milk or almond milk or  half-and-half or even some yogurt if you'd like)

Heat the oil in a large soup pot over medium heat. Add the onion, sprinkle with about 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt, and saute until the onion softens.  Add the apple, a few more sprinkles of salt, and saute for about five minutes more until the apple softens as well.  Stir in the curry powder and cumin and cook until they're fragrant.  Stir in the lentils, coating with oil and spices, then add the broth, squash, honey and coconut. Bring to just a boil and then turn heat down to a simmer.  Simmer soup, uncovered, for about 30 minutes or so, until lentils are soft and soup thickens.  You can add fancy toppings if you'd like:  chopped cilantro, a tablespoon or two of some more coconut milk (or yogurt).  But it's pretty good just as it is.  This makes a big pot of soup--would serve 8 easily.

Peanut Butter Muffins
I expected the peanut butter to make these muffins heavy, but they're the lightest muffins I've ever made.  The original recipe comes from another blog, A Pinch of Yum, though I made a few changes to it as well.  The most significant is adding some baking soda to the batter to counteract the acidity of the honey.  I think that's what made them so light and fluffy.  I love that this recipe makes only 6 muffins.  It could easily be doubled, though!

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
pinch of salt
3 tablespoons peanut butter
2 tablespoons canola oil
3 tablespoons honey
1 cup milk (could use almond or soy milk; I used skim)

Grease a 6-cup muffin tin and set aside. Heat the oven to 350 degrees.  In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, soda and salt.  In a smaller bowl, stir the peanut butter, oil and honey together until well blended.  Slowly add the milk to the peanut butter mixture and stir well until thoroughly combined.  Add the milk/peanut butter mixture to the dry ingredients and stir to combine using as few strokes as you can--you want the batter to be mixed together, but it's okay if there a few lumps.  Spoon the batter into the greased muffin tin and put in the oven, checking after 10 minutes--but will likely take 15 minutes for the tops to be dry and springy (and a toothpick inserted in the middle to come out clean).  Makes 6 muffins.