This red lentil and roast butternut squash soup is a real landmark for me. I’ve never cooked without using either garlic or onion, and to be honest didn’t imagine it possible to cook good food without, I was so entrenched in ways of thinking and doing things, and yet here I am making a soup without either, and it is so delicious! I love red lentils, they are a staple vegetarian and vegan food, and so good in so many ways. For this soup, coupled with the beautiful orange butternut squash, which when roasted in the oven becomes silky and gorgeous, they make a smooth, thick soup that is totally satisfying, low carb, and high everything good, which for me, someone who needs a low carb diet, is perfect.
Make a vat, it keeps so well, and the flavour improves, so often the way with spiced food, and you’ll be wanting more the next day. It freezes well too, and is a great soup to have on hand. I love to have it ready for when we get back from a walk, it’s so restorative, and so satisfying, the soup itself, and also to not have to cook, to have already made something, and for it to be so easy to just heat up in the pan. It’s something I anticipate and appreciate every time. especially at colder times of year (which is, weighing up this British summer, most of the year).
Also I love to make soup when family visits, it’s easy for us to prepare and you can even make it the night before so everything’s ready, in fact this in many ways is better. No stress. The flavour matures beautifully. And everyone loves my soups, they always have second and even third helpings. Which I get such a kick out of; feeding the people you love healthy food they love is such a good thing to do, and you can’t go wrong with soup, it’s just so nutritious and easy to make super tasty.
I love roasting butternut squash, I just adore the vibrancy of the colour, and the smell, and everything about it. Roasted it’s such a wonderful vegetable to eat and cook with, adding silkiness to sauces and soups. I love roast butternut squash in a buckwheat pancake with cashew cream cheese and chives and a twist of lemon and black pepper…
The roast squash sweetens in such a natural way, it lifts the lentil and makes it all so gorgeous…
I have served the soup with my mint, coriander and spinach dip, which I recommend as an extra wow. It really does lift it to a whole other level of deliciousness, and is so worth making. It keeps well, and you only need a tablespoon or two for each portion, so there’ll be plenty left over for a curry they next day. It also freezes well. But the soup is lovely on its own also, as a really tasty meal. If you like it thick or thin, it works either way, just add more liquid for a thinner soup and season to taste.
There are a lot of spices in the soup, and I find that such soup just absorbs flavour like a sponge, it can take some heavy spicing, and caries it beautifully.
- 1 large butternut squash
- 2 cups of red lentils
- 2 sticks of celery
- 1 fennel bulb, optional
- 8 cups of water
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 large bay leaf
- 1 heaped tsp garam masala
- 2 tsp ground coriander seed
- 1 heaped tsp ground cumin
- 2 tsp black salt
- 3 tbsp lemon juice
- Spiced mint, coriander and spinach dip
Heat a hot oven 200 C
Cut squash in half, de-seed and score. Drizzle the oil and sprinkle a pinch of salt, and rub in. Roast in the oven on a medium high heat. I recommend putting some water in the roasting pan. Roasting should take about 30 mins, a little darkness is fine. Chop the celery and fennel.
Heat a little oil in your soup pan, and on a medium low heat add the bay leaf and the spices and stir for twenty seconds or so, or until their aroma lifts, being careful not to burn. Add the vegetables, lentils, water, the rest of the salt, give it a good stir and bring to simmer. Leave the lid on and cook at a low heat for 30 minutes or so.
Add the cooked squash, discarding the skin, remove the bay leaf and blend. Add half the lemon juice and taste. I recommend adding all the juice as it lifts the flavour, especially if you are keeping the soup and add the next day when lemon refreshes it beautifully.
Black salt (sanchal is another name) really adds to the soup, despite its name it is pinkish in colour, and has a wonderful spiced sulphuric taste, which is very delicious and really grounds the dish, adding depth. It's an unusual flavour at first, but is very moreish and packed with minerals and goodness so I wholeheartedly recommend it (order it online if you haven't access, as I haven't) but sea salt or Himalayan is okay if you don't have black salt.
I recommend serving with a hunk of my buckwheat bread ♥
If you don't use the dip then add a squeeze of lemon, or lime, before serving, especially the next day.