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Saturday, October 18, 2014

Slow Cooker Autumn Butternut Squash Stew

For day 18 of Soup Month 2014 we made a Slow Cooker Autumn Butternut Squash Stew that is perfect for a chilly fall dinner.  This delicious, earthy stew is packed with cubes of butternut squash, potatoes, carrots and thinly sliced kielbasa sausage, that slow cook during the day so dinner will be ready and waiting for you when you arrive home.

There are a couple of small ingredients that add a huge boost of flavor to this stew and create a really remarkable broth.  Tiny pearl onions add a little sweetness to the stew, followed by just a bit of red wine vinegar for acidity, and the final touch, a teaspoon of herbs de Provence.

If you're not familiar with this herb blend, it is a combination of dried rosemary, marjoram, thyme and savory, and it's kind of the "secret ingredient" to many French meals.  I've tried this blend from several manufacturers and my favorite is McCormick's Gourmet Collection.  The herbs can be used to season many types of soups and stews and even works nicely in stuffing and salad dressing recipes, so it's a good spice blend to have on hand.

Serve this stew with simple baked dinner rolls and a glass of bold, fruity red wine, such as a 2010 Undici Sangiovese, for a perfect fall dinner.  Enjoy!!

1-1/2 lbs  Butternut Squash, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
2 medium  Russet Potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
2  Carrots, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch slices
2 cups  Beef Broth
1 TB  Red Wine Vinegar
1/2 tsp  Ground Black Pepper
1/2 tsp  Salt
1 tsp  Herbs de Provence
1 lb  Kielbasa, cut in half lengthwise and thinly sliced
12 - 15  Frozen Pearl Onions
1/4 cup  Cold Water
2 TB  Cornstarch

Combine the butternut squash, potatoes, carrots, broth, vinegar, pepper, salt and herbs in the slow cooker.

In a medium skillet over medium-high heat, brown the kielbasa and onions until both are slightly browned on the edges, about 5 - 6 minutes.  Transfer the sausage and onions to the slow cooker, cover and cook on LOW until the vegetables are tender, about 6 hours.

During the last 20 minutes of cooking time, combine the water and cornstarch in a small bowl, then pour the mixture into the stew.  Mix gently with a spoon and heat until the stew has thickened, about 5 - 10 minutes.

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