Soup has a reputation, generally undeserved, of being where odds & ends and bits & pieces of random almost-past-its-prime food go to die (or, if they're lucky, be reincarnated). This soup does just that, but it's to far better effect than one might imagine.
Winter Squash-Chicken Stew (or Winter Squash-White Bean Stew), Made in a Slow Cooker
Serves 4 to 6, probably
Two slices thick-cut bacon, diced (or a couple tablespoons of olive oil)
One medium onion, chopped
One red bell pepper, chopped
About 4 oz. mushrooms, roughly chopped
One smallish can of tomato sauce
2 cups chicken (or vegetable) broth
Half a medium butternut (or other winter) squash, cut into smallish cubes
3 boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into 1" cubes (or 1 can white beans, rinsed and drained)
1 Tbsp chili powder
1 tsp cumin
1/2 ancho chile, stemmed, seeded and minced (if you like such things; it makes the soup fairly spicy, so feel free to omit)
2 Tbsp softened butter
2 Tbsp all-purpose flour
Place bacon (or, if you don't eat the pig, just heat up a couple tablespoons of olive oil) in a large saucepan; cook over medium heat until crispy; remove with a slotted spoon; drain on paper towels. Drain off all but 2 tablespoons fat.
Add onion; cook until softened, about 3 minutes. Add pepper and mushrooms; cook until mushrooms give off their liquid (you'll know by looking at them), about 3 minutes more.
Pour sauteed vegetables into a slow cooker. Add tomato sauce, chicken broth, squash, chicken (or beans) and seasonings. Cover and cook over low heat until you're ready to eat. This is not an all-day soup; four or five hours should do it.
Mix together softened butter and flour. Add to slow cooker. Increase heat to high and cook 30 minutes, or until slightly thickened.
Serve spooned over rice with (optional) bacon sprinkled overtop, and enjoy the clarity of conscience that comes with knowing that you have successfully rescued some little orphans from your crisper drawer that otherwise would have moldered away into sad oblivion. Of course you will now be eating them, which is not ordinarily a happy ending for orphans, but there it is.
This soup adapts easily to whatever you have in the refrigerator that looks like it needs to be eaten NOW. Kale or another green would be nice in here (slice it into ribbons and put it in with the flour/butter mixture); green beans or other veggies could easily be added partway through cooking; potatoes or other sturdy root vegetables (though probably not beets) would be a welcome addition too.
And because my sweetie's working and therefore I can't get a pretty picture of the soup, you get a none-too-pretty picture of my pretty red Crock-Pot ™ instead.