Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Red Lentil and Squash Soup by Anna Thomas

Once again, Anna Thomas has captured my appetite with this exquisite soup.  My family also raved about this soup that combines red lentils and butternut squash.  Lentils come in brown, green and red.  The typical red lentils found in most stores are actually pink and turn golden when they are cooked.  They tend to be the nuttiest and tastiest of all the lentils for my taste, and they cook in about 20 - 30 minutes.  They can become mushy if overcooked, but that is what makes them perfect for Indian dals, as well as my dietary needs.  I promise you won't be disappointed by this wonderful soup.  It is included in Anna Thomas' cookbook, Love Soup. If you click on that link, you can learn more about that cookbook and watch a video of Anna Thomas making a roasted root vegetable and squash soup.  I haven't tried it yet, but plan to do so soon because it looks delicious!  To purchase her cookbook, see her website at Anna Thomas

For my followers who have wondered why there haven't been any posts recently, I had open surgery to remove my gall bladder on February 15.  The monthly injection of Sandostatin Lar that I receive to stall the growth of the neurodendocrine tumor on the head of my pancreas also destroys the gall bladder eventually, so that is why it had to be removed .  The surgery was deemed a "risky" procedure because of complications resulting from my first surgery in 1998, as well as the CyberKnife stereotactic radiosurgery I received in 2005 for the second tumor. But a highly competent surgeon safely removed my gallbladder.  Additionally, he was performed a duodenojejunostomy, which created a bi-pass around the area in my duodenum that was compressed by the tumor.   It was this stricture that caused me to eat pureed foods for the past 3 - 4 years.  So this new bi-pass will allow me to eat more solid foods.  Amazing!!!  My surgeon said I have progressed from "pureed baby food" to "toddler food."   As I heal from the surgery, I am still eating primarily pureed food, with slow additions of more solids, as my confidence grows.  

Be assured I will continue to post new recipes for healthy pureed foods on this blog!  I have heard from many of you via email that this resource has been valuable for your needs and I want to continue to support you in this way.  Besides, the recipes are hopefully good enough that even those who do not need pureed foods will find Pzazz-filled recipes to add to your repertoire here!  This recipe certainly fits that criteria.  


    1 generous cup dried red lentils
    1 tsp. sea salt
    1 small butternut squash
    2 medium yellow onions, chopped                
    1 1/2 Tbs coconut oil
    1 small garnet red yam
    2 Tbs. minced fresh ginger
    1 Tbs. cumin seeds, toasted and ground 
             (or 1/4 tsp dried ground cumin)
    1 tsp. turmeric
    1/4 - 1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes, plus more to taste
    4 - 5 cups light vegetable broth
    2 - 3 Tbs fresh lemon juice, plus more to taste


Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Cut the squash in half, seed it, and put the halves cut side down on a baking sheet. Roast the squash in the hot oven for 45 minutes, or until it is soft.  When the squash is tender, scoop it out of its skin- you should have about 2 1/2 cups of cooked squash.

While the squash is cooking, saute the chopped onions in the oil with a pinch of salt over medium heat, stirring often, until they are soft and turning golden brown, 20 - 30 minutes. 

Rinse the lentils and combine them in a soup pot with 4 cups of water and 1 teaspoon salt. Bring to a boil, lower the heat, and boil gently for about 20 minutes, skimming off any foam that rises to the top.

Peel and dice the yam. 

When the lentils are just tender, add the sauteed onions, diced yam, minced ginger, cumin, turmeric, red pepper flakes, and 4 cups vegetable broth. Simmer everything together, covered, for another 25 minutes. Then add the cooked squash to the soup. Cook until everything is soft.  Add another cup of vegetable broth if the soup seems too thick.

You can stir up the soup and leave it this way, with a rough, rustic texture.  Or, if you want or need a smooth soup, remove it from the heat, let it cool slightly, then puree in a blender, in batches, or with an immersion blender.  

Return the soup to the pot and bring it back to a simmer.  Stir in the lemon juice a little at a time, tasting as you go.  Correct the seasoning with more salt as needed.  This is also the time when you might decide to amp up the red pepper a bit, if you like a spicier soup.  I did not add the lemon juice and it was tasty even without it.

Optional garnishes as suggested by Anna Thomas:
fruity green olive oil
chile salsa
sour cream                                                        
fresh white cheese                                                      

Nutrition per serving:
Servings per recipe: 10
Serving Size: 1 cup                    
Calories: 150
Total Fat: 3 g
Cholesterol: 0 mg
Sodium: 548 mg
(this could be reduced by using a low-sodium vegetable broth)
Total Carbs: 26 g
Dietary Fiber: 5 g
Protein: 7 g