This led to an empty kitchen, which led to purchasing meals from the hospital cafeteria, which led to FATNESS.
OK, I'm exaggerating. But, the fact is that home-cooked meals are cheaper and healthier. Since starting to date The Lawyer, I've been studying at home more, which has led to cooking at home more. Still, he has a busy schedule, so whatever we make has to be fast, healthy, and freezable for later. Since it's hard to come up with interesting meals as a medical student (My brain has only so much capacity!), I've decided to start sharing our recipes. If I can manage to make these, you probably can too.
(And if you can't, or just prefer to eat in the cafeteria anyway, NO JUDGMENT!)
I hope you enjoy this new series!
What You'll Need
1 large butternut squash (approx. 3 lbs.)
1 large onion
1 large potato
3-4 full-sized carrots
3-4 celery stalks
3 cloves garlic
1 vegetable or chicken flavored bouillon cube
1 12 oz. can Great Northern ("white") beans
sour cream or scallions (optional garnish)
bread (optional side item)
1. Start by putting two cups of water to boil in a medium sized saucepan.
2. While your water is heating up, wash and cut your butternut squash into small chunks. I like to cut my squash into thirds, and then cut each of these pieces into four more pieces. (See photo). Use a very sharp knife for this, but be careful, because the skin of the squash will be tough and you will have resistance. Scoop out any seeds with a spoon.
3. Place your cubed squash into the (hopefully) boiling water and add approximately 1/2 t. salt. Cover the pot almost completely (I put the lid on askew, so that steam can escape), and let steam for 20-30 minutes.
4. While the squash is steaming, fill a large stockpot with 6 cups of water and start boiling. While this boils, dice your onion, celery, potato, garlic, and carrots and place in a separate bowl. I prefer to peel my potato before dicing, but you don't have to. You also don't need to do anything besides a rough chop to your garlic, because you're going to blend the whole thing later.
5. When the water is boiling, drop your bouillon cube in and wait for it to dissolve. I stir the water with a wooden spoon to facilitate this. Then, add your chopped vegetables, along with 1 t. of salt. Again, cover and turn down to medium high heat.
(Umm...I forgot that we didn't have carrots this day. The Lawyer picked some up on the way home, though, and they were added later.)
6. By the time you have finished chopping the vegetables, the squash should be finished steaming. It will be bright orange and tender (poke with fork to check). Remove from the steamer, and place on a plate or platter to cool.
7. After 20 minutes or so, the squash should be cooled. Gently peel off the skin from the cooked pieces, roughly cube into smaller pieces, and add to the stockpot of vegetables. (This step could also be done the night before, if you don't have enough time to do all of this on the same day. I've definitely thrown the cooked squash in the refrigerator and peeled and diced it the following day.)
8. At this point, you may need to add about a cup or so of additional water to the stockpot. You really can't mess up with how much water you add, because it's going to cook down anyway. Just add enough to barely cover the squash and vegetables as they cook. Cover and simmer for an additional 30 minutes.
9. When all vegetables are cooked and the squash is beginning to break apart, remove the pot from the heat and use an immersion blender to puree the mixture.
If you don't like beans or want to use your pureed mixture for organic baby food, you can stop here.
10. For the medical students who need heartier meals, though, wash your canned beans and add to the mixture. The beans will add protein and make the soup creamier.
This is clearly The Lawyer's hand. By the time this photo was taken, he was home from work and helping, so that I could take pictures.
11. Use your immersion blender to incorporate the beans.
12. When the soup is smooth and lump free, add any additional salt or pepper for flavor. Serve in a bowl with a dollop or sour cream and/or scallions.
13. For a complete meal, serve with bread. (For those of you who know us in real life, you know that The Lawyer has a thing for his bread machine and would have made bread. But on a regular weeknight, just grab a loaf of bread from your favorite bakery!)
The Lawyer is ashamed that you will see that we bought this bread on clearance. HOWEVER, Firehook sells their bread for half off at the end of the day, so The Lawyer often picks up a loaf on his way home from work. Now you know. We are cheap and not above eating day old bread.
From start to finish, the preparation and execution of this took just over an hour. But...it provided three solid meals for both The Lawyer and I, so if you are a single person, that's six meals for one hour of work! If this is STILL too much time to carve out, you can listen to audio recordings of your lectures while you're in the kitchen, as I often do. If you're an audio learner and can pull this off, it's a good way to have something going in the background, so that you don't feel like you're "wasting time."