SOUPS

Curried butternut squash and red lentil soup

Curried butternut squash and red lentil soup

With all the stresses and strains most of us have been through this year, it’s not surprising that many of us have been seeking out comfort foods. Typically these comfort foods aren’t exactly the best foods for your waistline. There’s even a term now for the extra pounds that a lot of us have put on over the last few months — the “Quarantine 15” (like the common phrase “Freshman 15”).

But comfort food doesn’t have to equate to fattening food. This luscious and nourishing curried butternut squash and red lentil soup is a perfect example. A warming bowl of this soup, in our opinion, is among the most comforting things you can eat.  Yet at the same time it’s packed with nourishment and goodness and not a lot of calories.

In fact this soup is just the sort of comfort food you want to be consuming at the moment because butternut squash is a particularly rich source of beta carotene, which helps promote a healthy immune system.

Curried butternut squash and red lentil soup
Serves 4
A luscious and nourishing soup with pureed butternut squash and red lentils accented with fresh ginger and a subtle blend of Indian spices. To make this into a complete meal in its own right, serve with warm naan bread for dipping.
2 tablespoons peanut or canola oil
1 onion — finely chopped
2 cloves garlic — finely chopped
2 teaspoons finely grated fresh ginger
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 teaspoon garam masala
½ teaspoon dried chili flakes
2 lbs (1kg) butternut squash — peeled and cut into cubes
½ cup red lentils
1 cup coconut milk, plus extra for drizzling
5 cups vegetable or chicken stock
2 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon finely chopped cilantro (fresh coriander)
HEAT the oil in a large saucepan over a medium heat. ADD the onion and cook for 6 minutes, stirring occasionally. ADD the garlic, ginger, cumin, turmeric, garam masala and chili flakes and cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly. ADD the butternut squash, lentils, stock, coconut milk and salt and bring to a boil. REDUCE the heat to medium and simmer, covered, for 20 minutes. STIR in the lemon juice then remove the soup from the heat and allow to cool a little. PUREE the soup in batches in a blender or food processor until smooth. RETURN to the saucepan to heat through. SERVE in bowls drizzled with a little coconut milk and garnished with the chopped cilantro.