Warm spiced lentil soup with squash.

I’m kind of ‘meat-ed’ out, you know? During the holidays, we feasted on apple-stuffed pork, beef tenderloin, even bison burgers. Delish, sure. But while I don’t feel like I overate, I’m just craving vegetables. (Seriously: my haul at the market yesterday was almost 100% produce.)

So this delicious red lentil and vegetable soup recipe — low fat, totally vegetarian and completely amazing — is just what I’ve been hankering for. I haven’t been able to keep my spoon out of the pot while it’s been simmering away. And like almost any soup known to mankind, I know this one will be even better for lunch tomorrow.

This soup recipe began with one I spotted on the New York Times Cooking app — which I highly recommend. But I wanted more vegetables. So I added 2 cups of diced butternut squash, which was perfect: the squash adds a touch of sweetness that plays beautifully with the warm spice of cumin and cayenne. While the original calls for puréeing the soup, I left my ‘veggier’ version nice and chunky. Other than the splash of olive oil used to sauté the onion, there’s no fat in this recipe. Plus, with those gorgeous red lentils and all those hearty vegetables, it’s comforting and filling. Add a dollop of plain yogurt for a cool tang, and you’re set to go.

red lentil soup with butternut squash recipe

makes 4 servings

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 sweet onion, finely chopped
2 large garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 teaspoon ground cumin
Pinch of cayenne pepper
4 cups vegetable broth
1–2 cups water
1 cup dried red lentils
1 large carrot, unpeeled, finely diced
2 cups finely diced butternut squash
1 fresh or dried bay leaf
Plain lowfat yogurt and chopped parsley, for serving

In a heavy soup pot, warm the olive oil over medium-high heat; add onion and garlic and stir to coat. Reduce heat to medium and cook, stirring occasionally, until onion softens, about 5 minutes. Season with a generous pinch of kosher salt and ground pepper. Add tomato paste, cumin and cayenne; stir and cook about 2 minutes to warm the spices. Add broth, 1 cup water, lentils, carrot, squash and bay leaf. Bring liquid to a simmer, then cover partially and simmer until the lentils and vegetables are tender, about 20 minutes. If desired, puree about half of the soup (carefully!) in a blender or using an immersion blender. (I did not blend the soup, preferring a chunky soup instead.) Serve warm with a dollop of yogurt and a sprinkle of parsley.

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