Roasted butternut squash and red lentil soup is an easy recipe for a nutritious and filling meal. A comforting fall soup, butternut squash and red lentils perfectly pair to create a deep flavour. Beautifully orange, the two key ingredients give this autumn soup a stunning colour. Roasted shallots and thyme complete the sweet flavours or the butternut squash and red lentils for a soup you’ll want to eat over and over.
Mid-September in Sweden. The leaves are turning yellow, the mornings are getting colder. There is something about the transition of seasons I really love. And if my previous recipe was a salad to celebrate the fact that some days it is still summer, with this butternut squash and red lentil soup I’m welcoming the colder days. Nothing beats a bowl of hot soup when outside it’s raining and below 15°C.
As much of a lentil lover that I am, I was never really that much into red lentils. I grew up eating brown lentil stew, a food that in Italy brings good luck if eaten on new year’s eve. Smaller red lentils ever really crossed my path until my friend Eleonora went veg. Back in the (student) days when we were sharing the food pretty often, red lentil burgers had become one of her staples.
Call me lazy, I was always buying canned brown lentils. They’re easy business, you just need to add them to your dish and that reduces cooking times dramatically. Plus, no soaking hassle. When I learned that split red lentils require no soaking, my fear of dried lentils slowly disappeared. But I was not fully sold until I got to use them in a proper soup. And that happened last month, while cooking in a gorgeous AirBnB by the Great Ocean Road.
A passionate cook and foodie, my friend Erin convinced me to give red lentils a try in pumpkin soup. We were carrying with us a couple of butternut squashes from her parents’ garden, so the menu of the day had to include those. Along with a bottle of wine for the evening and some breakfast food for the day after, along the road we bought some curry powder and coconut cream. I have a butternut squash soup with curry and coconut cream recipe so I wanted to make something similar. She sugested we’d use some red lentils. So this is where the inspiration for this pumpkin red lentil soup came from.
Now, I keep referring to butternut squash as pumpkin because that is what my friend Erin was calling it. Apparently, that is the term used in Australian English, while squash derives from a Native American word. The butternut type is among the sweetest types of squash, and very similar in taste and texture to common pumpkin. To me, they are perfectly interchangeable. If you don’t have butternut squash where you are located, use your favourite kind of pumpkin. Just don’t swap the red lentils for their brown counterpart, or the beautiful colour of the soup might get affected.
How to make roasted butternut squash and red lentil soup
First of all, you need to roast the butternut squash. I used one whole, peeled and cleaned of the seeds. I also used 5 shallots, which I peeled and chopped, and added to the squash. I seasoned the diced vegetables with olive oil and fresh thyme and spread them out on an oven tray. I baked the squash and onions in the oven for a half hour, as I really wanted them to get tender, then set the oven to broil and left them in for 15 more minutes. The browning is what brings out the sweetness from both the squash and the onions.
While the squash and shallots are roastig in the oven, it is time to take care of the base of the soup. Rinse the lentils and add them to a pot together with 1 litre of water and 5 sprigs of fresh thyme. Bring to a boil and when the water boils add 1 tsp of salt. Lower the heat to the minimum and let simmer for about 20-25 minutes. When the lentils have softened, remove from the heat and discard the thyme sprigs. There should still be some water left, as we have added more than what was needed to just rehydrate the lentils. That is our soup base.
When the roasted veggies are ready, remove the thyme sprigs. Transfer the roasted veggies into the red lentil pot, making sure to thoroughly scrape down all of the oil that was left on the cooking sheet. Toghether with the shallots, that oil will be the main element to flavour this soup. Blend the soup with a hand blender until smooth. If you notice that the outer layer of some of the onions got too crunchy in the oven, feel free to remove that before blending for the sake of smoothness. Stir in 100 ml of cream and serve. Garnish with fresh thyme as I did.
Reasons to love this roasted butternut squash soup
This butternut squash and red lentil soup is awesome in so many ways I feel like I need to make a list here because I’ve got just too much good stuff to say about it. Let’s see:
- It’s healthy. Three veggies in one meal! Although technically the squash is a fruit and the lentils a legume, but whatever… You get your serve of greens (that, again, techically are orange…).
- It’s packed with nutrients. Butternut squash is a good source of vitamin A and C, as well as magnesium and potassium. Red lentils add in the proteins as well as iron and vitamin B6.
- It’s naturally gluten free, and can easily be made dairy free by using a plant-based cream (I did!). That means that this soup can feed a lot of people with various food alleriges, thus making it a real crowd pleaser.
- It’s so very beautiful. Roasted butternut squash has a vivid orange colour. Combine it with cooked red lentils and you get a beautiful bright orange soup. The thyme sprigs are just the cherry on the cake!
- This soup is comfort food at its finest. The perfect stuff you want to have on an early fall day.
Serve this roasted butternut squash soup with red lentils as a starter, or enjoy it as a main course topped with croutons or with a side of buttererd toasted bread. Garlic bread or goat cheese on toast are two great ideas that well complement the sweetness of the soup. If you don’t appreciate rainy autumn days and miss the sun, a bowl of this orange goodness will sure brighten your lunch!
Roasted butternut squash and red lentil soup
- 1 Kg butternut squash
- 200 g shallots
- 200 g split red lentils (dried)
- 60 ml olive oil
- 100 ml cooking cream
- salt to taste
- fresh thyme sprigs
- Peel, seed and dice the butternut squash. Peel and chop the shallots. Combine the vegetables in a large bowl and add the olive oil and 5 thyme sprigs. Spread seasoned veggies out on an oven tray and bake in the oven for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, switch the oven to broil and let the vegetables roast for another 15-20 minutes.
- While the vegetables are roasting, rinse the red lentils and add them to a pot with 1 litre of water and 5 sprigs of fresh thyme. Bring to a boil, then add 1 tsp of salt and lower the heat to minimum. Let simmer for another 15-10 minutes, or until the lentils are soft. Remove from the heat when ready, discharge the thyme sprigs.
- When the roasted vegetables are ready, remove the thyme sprigs and transfer the vegetables, along with their oil, to the red lentil pot. Blend with a hand blender until smooth. Adjust the salt if desired, stir in the cream and serve.