I love cooking with butternut squash. It’s a good substitute for sweet potatoes and it can be used in a variety of dishes. When I can, I usually buy butternut squash pre-cut because it’s just so difficult to cut a whole squash. I was in Trader Joe’s last week and I saw they had fresh, whole butternut squash – and it was almost $3 less than the pre-cut packages of squash! Cutting a whole butternut squash is so hard, which is why it is one of the few vegetables I buy pre-cut. But after realizing I was paying way too much, I decided I would buy the whole squash and hopefully cut it without cutting myself.
I was talking to my Mom about my struggles and she told me to microwave the squash for a few minutes and it would be soft enough to cut. I was a bit skeptical but gave it a try. I pierced the outside of the squash with a fork and put it in the microwave for three minutes. When it was done “cooking”, I was able to easily peel and dice the squash. It was a miracle! And no fingers were cut in the process!
I recently got a subscription to Southern Living magazine. I was looking through the October issue and a few of the recipes looked really good. Of course, none were free of gluten, dairy, or eggs, so if I was going to attempt to make any of them, major modifications would be needed. There was one stew recipe that caught my eye and after studying it for a few minutes, I decided I could easily substitute a few of the ingredients and make this recipe.
The recipe is fairly simple to make but there are a lot of steps, so it took me about 40 minutes to cook before I could leave it to simmer. The recipe called for the stew to be made in a crock pot, but honestly, I’m not a fan of the crock pot. Besides chili, I haven’t really found a recipe that is flavorful enough to withstand the long cooking time required. Also, by cooking it in a large stockpot or Dutch oven, you don’t have to cook part of the soup on the stove and then transfer it to a crockpot to simmer. The recipe also called for pumpkin but I swapped it for butternut squash…. hence why I was buying it in the first place.
The stew is really thick, so if you want more liquid, add some more chicken broth. Personally, I like thicker soups so it was perfect for me.
Chicken Stew with Butternut Squash and Wild Rice
Author: Original recipe printed in the October 2018 issue of Southern Living magazine; modified by The Food Allergy Foodie to be free of gluten and dairy (and a few other adjustments)
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cooking Time: approximately 1-2 hours
4 tablespoons of coconut oil, divided
5-6 boneless, skinless chicken thighs (1 package)
3-4 celery stalks, chopped (about 1 cup)
1 yellow onion, finely chopped
5 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
1/3 cup of gluten-free all-purpose flour
1 (32-oz) container of unsalted chicken stock
1 whole butternut squash, cut into 1-inch cubes – or – 2 (12-oz) packages of pre-cut butternut squash
½ cup of wild rice
1 cup whole-fat coconut milk
Kosher or Sea Salt and pepper, to taste
1/4 cup of coarsely chopped fresh Italian parsley
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme or 1 tablespoon of fresh thyme, chopped
- In a Dutch oven or stockpot, heat 2 tablespoons of coconut oil over medium heat. While the oil is heating, salt and pepper both sides of the chicken thighs. Add the chicken and cook until well browned, about 5 minutes. Turn chicken over and cook for another 4-5 minutes. The chicken doesn’t have to be fully cooked because it will continue to cook as the soup simmers. It’s okay if some of the chicken sticks to the bottom of the pan. It will just help add to the flavor of the veggies in the next step.
- Transfer the chicken to a plate and set aside.
- Add another 2 tablespoons of coconut oil to the Dutch oven or stockpot. As the oil heats, use a wooden spoon and scrape the chicken bits from the bottom of the pan. Add the celery, onion, and garlic. Stir well, continuing to scrape the chicken from the bottom of the pan. Cover and cook for 5 minutes, until the onion and celery soften.
- Add the gluten-free flour and stir well. The celery and onion will get a little clumpy. Add the chicken stock, stirring constantly, until the four is completely incorporated and the broths begins to thicken.
- Turn the heat up to high and bring the soup to a boil. Stir consistently. Cover the pot if needed to bring to a boil, just keep an eye on it and stir every minute or two.
- Add the butternut squash and rice to the pot. Stir well. Add the chicken back into the pot. Stir well and make sure the chicken is fully submerged into the soup liquid.
- Cover and bring to a rolling boil. Reduce heat to a slow simmer and let cook for about one hour. If your heat is too high, use a diffuser to keep the soup from burning or sticking to the bottom of the pan. Stir periodically while simmering.
- Remove any large chicken pieces and transfer to a cutting board. Using two forks, shred the chicken thighs. Return the shredded chicken to the pot.
- Add the cup of coconut milk, parsley and thyme. If needed, microwave the coconut milk for 15 seconds to remove any clumps.
- Stir well and let simmer a few minutes to warm the coconut milk.
- Ladle into soup bowls and enjoy!