Three years ago I mustered all the courage I had and called the marketing director at my local Whole Foods. "Hi!," I said, in an intensely perky voice. "My name is Jamie G. Dougherty, Health and Lifestyle Coach, and I would LOVE to provide wellness lectures and cooking classes for Whole Foods." "Really," he replied. "As it turns out we are working with the Alta Bates Summit Medical Center to create a wellness series and we are looking for a nutrition component, " he continued. "Let's set up a time to talk." And so it was that I became the co-creator of the Whole Foods and Alta Bates Summit Wellness for Life Series! Since its inception we have provided nutrition lectures, health food store tours, and cooking classes for Alta Bates employees and the general public. It's an amazing program that I am so very proud of. Every month I give a cooking class that covers a specific topic. The following video is from my February "Heart Healthy" class where I blew everyone's mind with a Roasted Kabocha Squash and Lentil Soup recipe. I made a triple batch, hoping to take some leftovers home for dinner. After ladling thirds and fourths to some participants, I was left with an efficiently cleaned out pot. Thankfully, my initial perturbation gave way to gratitude. What better compliment than to have all the soup slurped up?? Enjoy!
Roasted Kabocha Squash and Lentil Soup
1 red onion, diced
2 carrots, peeled and diced
2 stalks of celery, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
7 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
2 cups French green lentils, picked over and washed
6 cups water, organic vegetable or chicken stock
3 cups Swiss Chard, washed and chopped (feel free to use spinach or kale in its place)
2 cups kabocha squash, peeled and cubed
1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
3 teaspoons sea salt
Preheat the oven to 415 degrees. In a large stock pot over medium heat, sauté the onion, carrots, and celery in 3 tablespoons of oil until they are soft. Add the garlic and sauté for another 2 minutes. Toss in the lentils and water (or broth), bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer and cook for 40 minutes (cook for 20 minutes if the lentils have been soaked overnight.)
While the lentils are cooking, roast the kabocha squash. Peel and seed the squash and chop it into 1-inch cubes. Mix with 2 tablespoons of olive oil and 1 teaspoon of salt, place in a Pyrex dish, and bake for 40 minutes. Stir once at the 20 minutes mark for even cooking. The squash should be golden brown and soft on the inside.
Once the lentils are cooked, add the chopped chard and cook until wilted, about 5 minutes. Next, add in 2 cups of the roasted kabocha squash. (Place extra squash in the fridge for a quick snack.) Mix the soup thoroughly and add fresh parsley and salt to taste. Drizzle with remaining olive oil and serve with a big green salad. Enjoy!