South eastern Michigan has been kind enough to grace us with a beautiful fall this year. Sunny skies, trees with colorful leaves, and warm days that require only a light jacket. It has been about as perfect as fall can get. But this week, that fall weather has disappeared. Sunny skies have been replaced with rain and clouds, warm days with biting cold, and the trees have sadly begun to shed their colorful leaves. Fall can’t last forever, I suppose.
As I battled the winds back to my apartment, I kept thinking to myself, what do I want to cook? What did I want to eat? I was craving something warm and hearty. Soup could work. We had a squash that had been adorning our table for a few weeks. Butternut squash soup? Maybe. But I didn’t really have any other vegetables to add to it. Lentil soup sounded good. But I wanted to use the squash. Why not just mix the two together? Aha! Dinner would be butternut squash soup with lentils. Lentil soup is one of my all time favorites. When I was younger, I would always request lentil soup when we went out to eat at middle eastern restaurants. I loved dipping warm pita bread in the golden colored, hearty soup. If you’re a fan of lentils, you can check out my recipe for it here.
This particular squash and lentil soup almost came out a disaster. Almost. When I cooked the squash, I set a timer, knowing that I would probably forget to check on it. I was so pleased with myself for remembering to time it. But what I should have also done was time the cooking of the soup. Or at least, I should have kept a closer eye on it. You see, I had carefully chopped my onions, sautéed them, peeled my squash, measured my lentils, measured my water, and finally, added everything to the pot. I mixed it all together, set the stove temperature to medium, and sauntered to my room to work on a paper. About 15 minutes later, I realized that I had forgotten about the soup! I dashed to the kitchen to find that the lentils were sticking to the bottom of the pot and starting to burn. I reduced the heat, and mixed everything together, hoping that there was no lingering burned taste. The bottom hadn’t burned much, and luckily, it added a roasted, rather than burned flavor to the soup. The soup was saved!
My suggestions to you: 1) keep an eye on your soup, lentils have a habit of clinging to the bottom of the pot if they are not stirred frequently, 2) if you like smooth soups, I would suggest puréeing the finished product with a blender, or immersion blender. I love the texture of the lentils, but the squash was a bit stringy. 3) enjoy this soup on a cool or rainy day, it’s heartwarming
1 small to medium butternut squash
1/2 an onion (1 onion if you prefer!), chopped
1 cup red lentils
2 teaspoons turmeric
1 teaspoon curry
1/4 teaspoon citric acid (or juice of a lemon)
1 tablespoon of oil
salt and pepper to taste
3 cups of water
1 bouillon cube (or use three cups of stock)
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Cut the squash into fourths, spray with oil, and cook in the oven for 35 to 40 minutes or until the squash is tender. (Poke the squash with a fork or knife to see if it’s cooked. If the fork or knife comes out easily, then the squash is cooked. If you end up wrestling with the squash to get your utensil back, the squash probably needs to spend more time in the oven). When the squash has finished cooking, let it cool, and then peel off the skin. Set aside.
In a medium saucepan, heat about 1 tablespoon of oil. After about a minute, add the chopped onion. Let the onion cook for a few minutes, and then add the peeled squash. Mash the squash, and let it cook in the pot for about 5 minutes.
Add 1 cup of red lentils, stir, and then add three cups of water or stock. If using a bouillon cube, dissolve it into the water. Let the lentils and squash cook for about 20 minutes on medium to low heat. Be sure to constantly stir the lentils, as they have a tendency to the stick to the bottom of the pan. After about 20 minutes, the lentils should be fully cooked. Depending on how thick you like your soup, you may want to add more water or stock.
When the lentils are cooked, add turmeric, curry, citric acid (or lemon), salt and pepper. Stir, and taste. Add more spices, salt, or pepper as you see fit. Serve with salad, bread, rice, or any other preferred accompaniment.