The holidays are upon us and we’re looking forward to a couple of weeks of festivities and feasting.  I don’t know about you but I know that in between all the big parties and dinners, I need to try to watch my diet and eat tasty but healthy food.  And with cool weather coming we want a supper to ward off the chill.

               This soup goes a long way toward those goals.  It is very low in fat per serving. Nutrient-rich butternut squash has lots of vitamin A and C, and a little calcium and iron. Lentils are good for fiber and protein. And the warm spices of ginger, cumin and curry powder makes this soup perfect for a cold winter day.

               Although it is meatless, my very carnivorous husband loved it. I served it with corn sticks.  Beans and grains (lentils and corn) together make a complete protein, so—delicious, healthy—a great way to fill in between party fare.

               Once again I used the ginger paste available in supermarket produce sections that we’ve talked about before.  After years of throwing away shriveled and moldy leftover pieces of fresh ginger, this was a great discovery. 

               The recipe makes a pretty big batch but it reheats beautifully. It would also freeze well, so you could have tasty hot soup on any of the cold days we know are ahead of us in the next couple of months.           

Curried Butternut-Lentil Soup

1 medium butternut squash
2 tbsp. olive oil
1 cup onion, coarsely chopped
1 cup celery, thinly sliced
1 red bell pepper, diced
2 cloves garlic, very thinly sliced
1 tbsp. ginger paste (or 1 ½ tbsp. fresh grated)
1 tbsp. curry powder
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 cup lentils
6 cups chicken stock
Salt and pepper
Plain yogurt (or sour cream) for garnish

               Preheat the oven to 375o.  Cut the squash in half lengthwise and scoop out the pith and seeds.  Place cut side down on a well-oiled foil-lined baking sheet.  Roast for an hour or a little more until just tender. Let cool.  Scoop the flesh into a large bowl and mash a few times with a potato masher. Leave some good-sized chunks.

               In a large soup pot, warm the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion, celery, bell pepper and garlic. Cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are starting to soften.  Add the ginger, curry powder and cumin and continue to cook, stirring, for a couple of minutes.  Add the lentils and stir to coat with seasonings.  Add the chicken stock and squash. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer for 25-30 minutes, or until the lentils are done. Taste and add salt and pepper as desired.  
               Top each serving with a spoonful of yogurt or sour cream. Makes eight or more meal-sized servings.


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