Butternut Squash, Lentil and Wild Rice Stew

2 pounds butternut squash
1 large onion, chopped (1 cup)
2 stalks celery, sliced (1 cup)
1 cup dry lentils, rinsed and drained
2/3 cup wild rice, rinsed and drained
4 cups chicken broth
2 packages French onion soup mix
1 1/2 cups water
1 tsp. dried thyme, crushed
3/4 tsp. ground white or black pepper
1/4 cup snipped fresh Italian (flat-leaf) parsley
3 Tbsps. dry sherry or dry vermouth (optional)

Peel squash. Halve lengthwise. Remove seeds and discard. Cut squash into 3/4-inch pieces. In a 5- to 6-quart slow cooker, combine squash, onion, celery, lentils and wild rice. Stir in broth, onion soup mix, water, thyme and pepper. Add more water as needed.

Cover slow cooker; cook on low-heat setting for 7 to 8 hours or on high-heat setting for 3-1/2 to 4 hours. Just before serving, stir parsley and, if you like, dry sherry into mixture in slow cooker. Makes 6 main-dish servings.