Curried butternut squash and red lentil soup

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

Curried butternut squash and red lentil soup (serves 4)

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.

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

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.

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