Makes approximately 6 quarts of soup and will easily serve 12
What makes this recipe shine is the combination of Butternut Squash, Cauliflower and Cabbage. This trio gives the soup an amazing flavor so don’t be disappointed if you omit one of these and the soup doesn’t taste the same. That said this soup, like all variations of minestrone, is very adaptable. Substitute chickpeas, white or red beans for the lentils. Add Kale or some other type of green if you like to enhance the color and flavor. Feel free to play with the combinations but keep in mind the Butternut will add sweetness and the Cabbage family adds a flavor all of it’s own.
This makes a great vegetarian main course. Adding bacon or pancetta is a wonderful variation. Sauté 4 ounces +/- in the soup pot prior to the adding any of the vegetables, then use the fat in place of the Olive Oil. I make this vegetarian and garnish Steve’s portion with a few strips of fried bacon crumbled over to finish the soup. That keeps him happy.
1 cup Lentils (I use French Lentils but any type of bean or lentil will work nicely)
1 Bouquet Garni
2 Tablespoons of Olive Oil
1 large Onion, peeled and chopped
2 Carrots, peeled and chopped
2 Celery Ribs, thinly sliced
1 small Savoy Cabbage, trimmed, quartered, core removed and chopped
1 small head of cauliflower, trimmed and finely chopped
1 small butternut squash, peeled, seeded and chopped
1 piece of Parmesan Cheese Rind
Salt and pepper as needed
Desired toppings to include: grated parmesan, olive oil, crumpled bacon, etc.
Place the Lentils & Bouquet Garni in a saucepan, cover with water by 2 inches and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat and simmer until lentils are tender, 25 – 40 minutes depending on the type of lentil you use. Keep an eye on this and add water if needed.
Meanwhile, in a large dutch oven or soup pot, heat the olive oil then sauté the Onion, Carrot and Celery, until the onion is translucent. Add the Cabbage and Cauliflower, mix thoroughly and continue to sauté until the cabbage wilts slightly. Add the Butternut Squash, Parmesan Cheese Rind, Lentils along with the Bouquet Garni and any remaining liquid, cover with water, bring the mixture to a boil. Lower heat to simmer, season as desired with salt and pepper, then cook for 30 – 45 minutes, until the vegetables are tender.