You know winter’s on its way when the soups come out to play: curried squash and red lentil soup

Butternut squash and red lentils - yummy, yummy, meat-free goodness

An Autumn/Winter Warmer

I originally planned to make this with roasted pumpkin to present to my father-in-law for his Fright Night Halloween event in Ferndown this month but I have to admit that I’m not the world’s biggest fan of pumpkin. It’s not that I don’t like it, it’s just that I’d much rather choose a butternut squash over a pumpkin any day because I find them so much sweeter.

So I’m cheating a little and making this lovely autumn/winter warming soup with my preferred butternut squash. Feel free to use a pumpkin though, especially if you want to keep to the Halloween theme.

The basis of this creation is none other than my husband’s dhal recipe (click here). His dhal is so good that as far as I’m concerned, I can forego any curry it’s normally served with and just eat his dhal with a spoon.

Butternut squash roasted with cumin seeds and sea salt - great on its own!

This curried squash and red lentil soup is a subtle tweak of his recipe with the addition of roasted butternut squash and other yummy ingredients thrown in.

I however lack my husband’s patience so I’ve opted to use pre-split red lentils, which take less than half an hour to cook instead of the usual two hours of boiling.

If you actually put the roasting of the squash aside (that takes 40 minutes), this soup can be made in 30 minutes, brilliant!

Don’t be scared by all the ingredients though, measuring them all out into one bowl is really the only hardest bit, which isn’t hard at all really.

In terms of serving, you’ve really got two options. You can either serve it chunky or do what I’ve done today, which is to blitz it with a handheld blender. I only did it because I fancied having a smooth and creamy soup today. One thing to remember if you’re blitzing it though, if you don’t want your soup too hot, fish out the chillies before you blend everything. But I love heat and spice, so I left the chillies in to make this soup extra warm.

My never-ending love affair with butternut squash lives on...

What’s amazing about this soup is that it doesn’t have any cream, yoghurt, milk or potatoes in it. The lentils provide all the creamy smoothness you’re looking for in thick soup. Given how much my husband and I love our meat, it’s also a lovely meat-free dish that doesn’t leave us wanting. Instead, it just leaves us warm and fuzzy all over, inside and out – not a bad thing at all as the days shorten and the temperature keeps dropping …happy eating!

One with fresh coriander for him, the other with fried shallots for me

Curried butternut squash and red lentil soup (serves 4)

Honestly one of the easiest soups to make. Really yummy too!

Preparing the roasted butternut squash:

Preheat your oven to 200 degrees celsius

1 butternut squash, peeled and cut into big cubes (about 1 kilo)

1 tablespoon vegetable oil (I don’t recommend using olive oil as sunflower or peanut oil works best)

1 generous teaspoon of cumin seeds

On a baking tray, spread the cubed squash around the tray and coat the cubes with the oil and cumin sides, with a good pinch of sea salt over the top. Roast the squash for 40-45 minutes, turning them once after 20 minutes. Remove and set aside.

Full of the heat and warmth of a hot Indian summer

Preparing the spices:

1 teaspoon cumin seeds

1 teaspoon fenugreek seeds

1 teaspoon curry leaves (I used dry curry leaves)

1 teaspoon coriander seed

1 teaspoon mustard seeds

2 bay leaves

1 teaspoon chilli powder

In a small fry pan, toast all of the dry spices and leaves (apart from your bay leaves) until you can smell their fragrance being released. Transfer the spices to a mortar and pestle (or spice grinder) and grind to as fine a powder as you can manage. Set aside

Preparing your lentil soup base:

1 litre of chicken/vegetable stock

½ litre of water

250 grams pre-split red lentils, washed thoroughly in cold water and drained

1 red onion, peeled and finely chopped

2 small red chillies, pierce a small slit in their skin without splitting the chilli open

2 small green chillies, also pierced

50 grams butter

2 tablespoons of vegetable oil

6-8 cherry tomatoes

Good pinch of sea salt
3 thumb sized pieces of ginger, peeled and minced/grated or pounded

6 cloves of garlic, peeled and minced/grated or pounded

Ready in 30 minutes, what's not to love?

Making the soup:

In your soup pot, melt the butter and oil and fry the onions for about 3-4 minutes on a high heat. You want the onions brown on the edges to give the soup a rich, caramelised flavour.

Add your ground spices to the onions and add the roasted butternut squash.

Pour in the lentils, chicken stock and water.

Boil on a high heat and then turn it down to a simmer for about 20 – 30 minutes until the lentils are soft and falling apart.

To serve chunky, pick out the bay leaves and serve with some fresh bread.

If you’d like a creamy, smooth soup, use a handheld blender to blitz until you have the consistency you want but remember to remove the chillies if you don’t want it too hot!

Garnish your soup with either fresh coriander leaves or sprinkle some fried shallots on the top.

There's no replacement for a home-made, home-cooked soup

3 Responses to “You know winter’s on its way when the soups come out to play: curried squash and red lentil soup”
  1. Amazing pictures!! was it as tasty as it looks?!

  2. Dalai Lina says:

    Looks yummy! Googled “fenugreek” because I had never heard of it and apparently your soup would be good for lactating mothers too 🙂 hehe

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