I remember the fall of my freshman year in college my mom and I decided to make butternut squash soup from scratch. We picked out a recipe, went to the store and bought all the ingredients, set them all out on the counter and started prepping. I got out the butcher knife to cut the squash and could barely even puncture it. Once I finally got it in at the top I tried pushing it down and couldn’t, and my mom tried and couldn’t, so my dad had to come chop it up. It took him forever. So when I found this recipe for butternut squash soup, I knew I didn’t want to buy a squash (plus, there’s always some left over and it goes bad really fast).
At Walmart in their Market Fresh section (by the produce) they have prepackaged products made by Walmart (this is where I get my pre-made guacamole). In this section they have packaged, cubed butternut squash that comes in a bag and you can steam it in the microwave. Each bag was $2.40 and I needed two bags (1.5 lbs.) for this recipe. I had most of the other ingredients so it was worth it, and I knew the soup would take a while to make and wanted to cut time wherever I could. Now I know you can microwave a butternut squash first before you cut it, but the bags still save time because you just steam them fast in the microwave.
Hearty Chicken Stew with Butternut Squash and Quinoa (from Cookin’ Canuk)
- 1 1/2 lb. butternut squash, peeled, seeded & chopped into 1/2-inch pieces (Market Fresh microwave bags, baby!)
- 3 1/2 cups chicken broth (I used chicken bullion and made the broth, but my stew turned out THICK so use at least 4 cups. I used the bullion because I already had it, but it’s better to use fresh broth)
- 1 1/2 lb. boneless, skinless chicken thighs (I used 3 frozen chicken breasts)
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
- 1 small bell pepper (I added this because I didn’t have a full onion and because peppers are awesome)
- 1/2 tsp kosher salt (I think I didn’t even add any salt or pepper, which is crazy for me because I put at least pepper on everything. It was great without it though. Just do it to taste)
- 4 cloves garlic, minced (For once I didn’t add more garlic. This was enough)
- 1 1/2 tsp dried oregano
- 1 can (14 oz) petite diced tomatoes (I got Great Value diced tomatoes from Walmart, but I got the Tex Mex kind. It was out of this world)
- 2/3 cup uncooked quinoa
- 3/4 cup pitted and quartered kalamata olives (I hate olives so I left this out)
- Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 1/4 cup minced fresh flat-leaf parsley (I used dried parsley and 1/4 cup seemed like a lot so I just gave it several, several good shakes)
- Steam the butternut squash until barely tender, about 10 minutes. Remove half of the squash pieces and set aside. (Microwave one bag on high for 2-2.5 minutes)
- Steam the remaining squash until very tender, an additional 4 to 6 minutes. Mash this squash with the back of a fork. Set aside. (Microwave second bag for 3.5-4 minutes – so much easier!)
- In a large saucepan set over medium-high heat, bring the chicken broth to a simmer. (In my case, bring water to a boil and add bullion, according to package directions)
- Add chicken thighs, cover, and cook until chicken is cooked through, about 15 minutes. (Add frozen chicken to broth, cover, and check periodically)
Transfer the chicken thighs to a plate and allow to cool. Pour broth into a medium-sized bowl. Return the saucepan to the stovetop and lower heat to medium. Add olive oil.
- While chicken is cooking, add
onionbell pepper to another saucepan with olive oil and cook, stirring occasionally. When about halfway cooked, add onions until onion is starting to turn brown, 8 to 10 minutesuntil onions are almost translucent. (Peppers take longer to cook than onions. If you want any of your veggies a bit crunchy, don’t cook them as long. But if you want everything cooked thoroughly, put the peppers in first)
- Add minced garlic and oregano. Cook, stirring, for 1 additional minute.
- By now the chicken and veggies should be just about done. Transfer the chicken to a plate and allow it to cool. Pour the broth into a medium sized bowl.
- Put all your veggies into the big saucepan your chicken was cooking in – you’ll need the space.
- To the saucepan, add tomatoes, butternut squash pieces, mashed butternut squash. Stir to combine.
- Stir in reserved chicken broth and quinoa. Bring to a simmer, cover and cook until the quinoa turns translucent, about 15 minutes. (I didn’t let it cook that long so the quinoa still had a tiny bit of crunch, and it was so good. Just keep tasting it until you like the texture)
- Shred the chicken with your fingers or a fork.
- Stir the chicken,
olivesand pepper into the stew and simmer, uncovered, to heat, about 5 minutes.
- Stir in parsley and serve.
This recipe might seem daunting, and it might be a two-person job, but it really wasn’t difficult. Using the squash from Walmart made it less time consuming but overall it took almost an hour to prepare from start to finish. It was worth it, though. My husband had never had quinoa and was really suspicious of it, but he said this is now one of his favorite meals. Plus, it made a TON so we’ll have leftovers for nights that we’re in a rush. Success.