The Teenager got braces on Friday, poor thing. She’s in a lot of pain, obviously, and now that she’s back from spending the weekend with her grandparents, I am negotiating the new waters of what she can and can’t eat. Turns out, some of her favourite foods are off the menu for the next two years.
So I’m making a lot of soft foods for her, and for us. Lots of soups and stews and pasta. Thank god it’s winter! This is stuff is right up my alley, currently.
So yesterday, I was all, “I’m going to do a Meatless Monday and make this butternut squash and lentil soup that I’ve been wanting to make, and bake some rye bread, too!” So I did. And then I got super excited because I had a package of uncooked bacon, and you know crumbled bacon on top of butternut squash soup is AMAZING…and…well, so much for Meatless Monday.
The Teenager ate it meatless, at least, so there’s that.
Everyone needs a basic butternut squash soup recipe in their arsenal. There are so many ways you can vary the recipe, once you get a handle on how it’s made. I’ve created versions that have apple, or sweet potato, that are curried, or have a more cinnamon or ginger flavouring. It’s such a great palate to experiment with, if you’re not that comfortable cooking. Last night’s soup worked particularly well, and I paid attention to the ingredient amounts, just in case it was as tasty as I hoped, so I’ll share it with you. This isn’t a world-altering recipe, but I think the allspice adds a roundness (did you know soup could taste round? I did.) that makes it a bit unique.
Butternut Squash & Red Lentil Soup
- 2 lbs butternut squash, diced into 1-inch cubes*
- 2 extra large carrots (or 3 medium), peeled and chopped
- 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
- 1 large clove garlic, smashed
- 1 Tbsp olive oil
- ~6 cups chicken or vegetable broth (enough to just cover the vegetables)
- 1 cup red lentils, rinsed
- 2/3 tsp dried ginger
- 1/4-1/2 tsp cinnamon
- generous pinch allspice
- sea salt (or pink Himalayan salt, if you’re feeling fancy and collect salts like I do), to taste
- freshly ground pepper, to taste
- 1-2 strips of veggie or piggy bacon, crumbled, for garnish (optional)
- In a large pot, heat the olive oil and add the onions and garlic, stirring frequently until softened.
- Add ginger, and some salt and pepper. I usually do this by sight, but I would guess it’s about 1/8 tsp pepper and 1/2 tsp salt. Continue to sautée until onions are translucent, about 3-5 minutes.
- Add squash, carrots and broth. Bring to a boil.
- Lower temperature so that you’ve got the soup simmering, add lentils, and allow to cook until carrots and squash are softened and lentils are cooked through, approximately 15-30 minutes.
- Remove from heat and purée, either with an immersion blender (my preferred method), or transfer in small batches to a blender and (carefully) blend.
- Put pot back on heat and stir in cinnamon and allspice.
- Keep soup on low heat for anywhere from 15 minutes to an hour, to allow flavours to deepen.
- Taste, and adjust salt and cinnamon, as needed.
- Serve with optional bacon as garnish, and a slice of your favourite bread (or not!).
- For added nutrition and to get some greens in, add 3-4 cups of chopped spinach or kale in the last 10 minutes of cooking.
- For added protein, add some shredded chicken to each bowl, upon serving.
- I used regular chicken broth, not low sodium. If that’s what you’re using, I’d up the salt a bit more.
*Full disclosure: I know there are lots of folks who buy whole butternut squash and peel and dice it themselves, but I am not one of those people. I DO NOT HAVE TIME FOR THAT SHIT. So I buy the packaged boxes of fresh butternut squash that come by the pound.
Let me know if you try the soup out. Enjoy!