Sunday, November 15, 2015

Spicy Butternut Squash and Red Lentil Soup

It's squash season at the farmer's market and grocery store, I just wanted to let you know in case you've missed the giant piles of butternut, spaghetti, acorn, delicata, hubbard and other squashes that seem to have taken over everywhere produce is to be found. I don't know about you, but I never tire of delicious winter squash, never. I love the sweet and creaminess of this extremely versatile vegetable. You can eat it on it's own, sweet or savory, you can add it to salads, soups, stews, chili, pasta, or you can add the mashed flesh to baked goods, smoothies, oatmeal...the list just goes on and on.

I have been baking up squashes left and right over the past couple of weeks. I love having already cooked squash sitting in the fridge, ready for whatever I feel like making. One of my recent creations was this delicious soup. With a couple of cups of cooked butternut squash hanging out in the fridge and some red lentils that have been trying to make an appearance for some time now, I knew a simple soup was just the thing. The perfect thing to sit down to on a cool autumn afternoon.

The inspiration for this soup was a recipe I found on Food52 for a sweet potato red lentil soup. I took the idea and made it my own, substituting butternut squash for the sweet potato and a chipotle pepper for the harissa since I didn't have any harissa on hand. For the spices, I just threw in a mix of some of my favorites such as cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, chili powder, cumin, coriander, paprika, you get the idea. I didn't measure them. When you're making a quick soup for yourself on a chilly day there's no need to measure or worry about exactly which spices to add. Just pick some of your favorites, add in whatever seems like a good amount and go from there. It's not an exact science, that's what makes cooking so fun, it turns out different every time, but always tasty!

Spicy Butternut Squash and Red Lentil Soup
Heavily Adapted from Food 52
  • 1/4 onion, sliced thin
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 2 small carrots, chopped
  • 1 small chipotle chili
  • 2 cups vegetable or chicken stock
  • 1/2 cup red lentils
  • 1-2 cups cooked, cubed butternut squash
  • A few shakes each of your favorites spices (cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, chili powder, cumin, coriander, paprika, etc.)
  • Cilantro, for garnish

Heat a small amount of oil in a small saucepan. Once hot, add the onion and saute for 5-10 min, until translucent and just starting to color. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, a minute or two. Then add the carrot and enough water to cover the bottom of the pan, let cook over medium heat, covered, until carrot begins to soften. Then add chipotle, stock, lentils, butternut squash and spices. 

Cook until everything is soft and cooked through, 20-30 minutes, adding water as needed to reach your desired consistency. Transfer soup to blender and blend until smooth. Return blended soup to pan. (Alternatively, use an immersion blender to blend soup until smooth.) Add water more water if needed. Taste for seasoning and serve, garnishing with cilantro if desired. 

Yields: 2-3 servings

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