Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Curried Butternut and Red Lentil Soup

I had never thought of adding lentils to a soup that was pureed, but that's why I'm not a recipe developer, isn't it?  I rarely cook new things based on random ideas floating around my head.  Maybe one day I'll get to that point, but for now I'm happy to stand on the shoulders of giants.  Well, if not giants, then bloggers, cookbooks, and magazines.

I've made plenty of butternut squash soup in my day.  It's one of our favorites.  I've never made it with lentils or canned tomatoes, though, and I have to say, I love the additions.  The lentils help add body to the soup, and they have the major benefit of pumping up the protein of a vegetarian meal.  The tomatoes add some acidity to the soup, which I think is needed with the milder taste of the lentils.

While I may not be able to concoct a recipe, I am able to tweak them to my tastes pretty well.  I modified the original recipe and added a carrot to the mix, since I didn't have a whole lot of butternut squash.  Since we love spicy soups, I added extra heat via curry powder, cayenne pepper, and most importantly fire-roasted tomatoes with chiles.
Either the recipe as written or with my adaptations - this soup is a keeper.  It's John's new favorite soup, replacing the fat-laden baked potato soup I've made in the past.  This recipe is much easier and healthier, so we'll probably be sticking to this one a lot this winter.

A baguette-for-two on the side (in my opinion the baguette is the perfect size for two people to split with soup for dinner) and topped with some chopped cilantro makes this the perfect fall meal.

Curried Butternut and Red Lentil Soup
Adapted from Eat Live Run

1 butternut squash (about 3 pounds), peeled and cubed (or pre-cut pieces)
1 - 1 1/2 cups red lentils
1 large carrot, chopped
1-2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 quart chicken or vegetable stock
1 medium onion, chopped
1 15 oz. can diced tomatoes (or diced tomatoes with chiles)
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, minced (or grated on a microplane)
2 cloves garlic, minced
2-4 teaspoons curry powder
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (or to taste)
Kosher salt, to taste
Chopped cilantro, to garnish

Heat olive oil in a large dutch oven over medium heat.  When hot, add in chopped onion and saute for 5 minutes, until onion is soft.  Add the garlic and ginger and cook for another minute, stirring often.  Stir in the curry powder and cayenne pepper and cook another minute.  Add in the cubed squash and carrot and stir to combine.  Add in the chicken or vegetable stock and scrape the bottom of the pan immediately to release the browned bits.  Add in the can of tomatoes (juice and all) and the red lentils.  Bring to a boil and then reduce the heat to let the pot simmer for 20 minutes, until the lentils, squash, and carrot are all fully cooked.  Transfer to a blender carefully or blend with an immersion blender until smooth.  Add salt to taste and extra cayenne pepper if you want more spice.  Serve with chopped cilantro.

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