A simple and delicious Butternut Squash Curry Lentil Soup that is as easy to make as it is delicious. The creaminess of the butternut squash is emphasized by the thickness of the red lentils. Red lentils are amazing in soups as they break apart upon cooking, adding a hearty texture. This recipe is packed full of plant-based protein with 20 grams of protein, and only 280 calories per serving.
Legumes are one of the best foods we can feed our body, but often one of the foods we don’t eat enough of. They have a complex nutrient profile and offer plant-based protein, iron and zinc. They are also one of the most sustainable sources of protein we have access to (see my post How To Cook Lentils + 5 Reasons Why We Should Eat Lentils). Clients tell me the main reason they don’t eat lentils is that they lack the confidence in preparing them. This is one of my favourite recipes for introducing clients to cooking with dried lentils, as red lentils are the easiest to cook with. This Butternut Squash Curry Lentil Soup with Turmeric really is fail-safe and will take only 35 minutes to cook!
Why I Made This Butternut Squash Curry Lentil Soup with Turmeric
Lentils Are High In Iron and Zinc
Lentils are one of the best plant-based sources of iron and zinc. One cup of cooked lentils can have up to 6 milligrams of iron and one serving of this Butternut Squash Curry Lentil Soup contains a whopping 7.3 milligrams. Most adult women require up to 18 milligrams of iron per day, while adult men require 8 milligrams. For more information on the importance of zinc see my post on How To Get Enough Zinc for the Vegans and Vegetarians.
This Butternut Squash Curry Lentil Soup Is High In Protein
Lentils are a great source of plant-based protein, and one serving of this soup provides over 20-grams of quality plant-based protein. A general recommendation is around 20-30 grams of protein per meal, depending on your age, requirements and activity levels. Lentils are also one of the most sustainable protein sources (see my post How To Cook Lentils + 5 Reasons Why We Should Eat Lentils for more information on the sustainability of lentils).
This Butternut Squash Curry Lentil Soup is Easy
The most time-consuming part is the cutting of the butternut squash. I have included some of my top tips and tricks for cutting this delicious squash. Red lentils are the fastest cooking of all the legumes and take less than 10 minutes to cook. They break apart nicely in soups and add to the thick consistency that goes so well with butternut squash.
Tips On Making Butternut Squash Lentil Soup
How To Peel and Cut Butternut Squash
Some feedback from this recipe has to include some instructions on how to cut butternut squash. The most important tip is to make sure you have a sharp knife – remember a dull knife is more dangerous than a sharp knife.
How To Peel and Cut Butternut Squash
- First, lay the squash lengthwise on a cutting board and trim off both ends,
- Slice the squash in half, flip the smaller half so the flat side is against the cutting board and carefully shave the skin off using your knife on an angle. Continue shaving the squash, spinning it as you go, until all the skin is removed. You will lose a little bit of flesh but that is OK,
- Flip the squash back on its side and cut into rounds, about 3/4″ wide,
- Flip back over so the flat side is against the cutting board, and stack the rounds up. Chop into 3/4″ cubes,
- Repeat the process with the other side. This side will have seeds in the middle, so instead of cutting into cubes, trim the squash flesh off from around the seeds ensuring that all the pieces are similar in size to the first batch.
How To Make Homemade Vegetable Stock
Going forward, a good strategy to make sure you always have some good quality vegetable stock on hand is to save the ends and peels of certain stock vegetables. This includes onion, garlic, carrots, celery and leeks.
Save these pieces in a container or bag in your freezer, and when it is full simply add them to a large stockpot, add some salt and whole black pepper and boil for about an hour, or until you are satisfied with the flavour. Strain and store the stock in your freezer in 1.5L yogurt containers, which is the perfect amount for this soup.
How To Prepare Red Lentils
Lentils are great because they can be added directly into the soup, no pre-preparation required. For those following a plant-based diet and looking to optimize their absorption of harder to access minerals including iron and zinc, it is good practice to pre-soak your lentils (or any legume) before using to remove some phytic acid (which binds to the minerals).
Option to soak the red lentils for 4-6 hours before using, being sure to drain the water to remove phytic acid. For more information on how to prepare lentils, see my post How To Cook Lentils + 5 Reasons Why We Should Eat Lentils.
Variations For Butternut Squash Curry Lentil Soup
Butternut Squash Curry Lentil Thai Soup
To put a Thai twist on this soup, add 3 tablespoons of Thai paste instead of the curry powder and spices. Fry the Thai curry paste for 3 minutes to release the flavour. Option to also add 1 can of coconut milk to the soup, and reduce the amount of stock by 1 1/2 cups (4 1/2 cups of stock total).
Butternut Squash and Sweet Potato Curry Lentil Soup
Another great combination is butternut squash with sweet potato. Sub in one large sweet potato, peeled and diced into 3/4″ cubes for the bottom half of the butternut squash. You can save the remaining half of the butternut squash to be roasted and added to a salad, or for another soup.
Butternut Squash Coconut Curry Lentil Soup
For a creamy coconut butternut squash curry soup add 1 can of coconut milk with the stock and reduce the amount of stock in the recipe by 1 1/2 cups (use 4 1/2 cups of stock instead of 6 cups).
Chickpea and Butternut Squash Curry Soup
To make a chickpea and butternut squash curry soup add one 28 oz can of chickpeas (drained and rinsed) in place of the lentils, about 3 minutes before the soup is finished cooking. Canned chickpeas do not need to be cooked, so adding them a few minutes before the soap finishes cooking is so the chickpeas can absorb some flavour, and heat them up.
Notes On Butternut Squash Curry Lentil Soup
Can I Use Split Peas or Green Lentils in Place Of Red?
Red lentils are the best type of lentil to use in this dish as they break apart easily, adding to the overall texture and creaminess of the dish. They also take the least amount of time to cook out of all the lentils. If you have green lentils or split peas on hand, add them to the soup at the same time as the stock to account for the longer cooking time. The outer fibre of the green lentils is more pronounced, which will result in a less creamy consistency.
How Do I Prepare Lentils?
Red lentils do not need to be pre-soaked and can usually be added straight into the recipe without any pre-preparation. I always suggested washing your lentils, as good quality local lentils will often have a few tiny pebbles in the mix.
Ideally, any lentil or legume should be pre-soaked, and this is to help remove some of the phytic acid or phytates which bind to minerals making them less available. Soaking helps to remove the phytates, and this is especially important for those following a plant-based diet (see my post How To Prepare Lentils). For more information on maximizing absorption of zinc see my post How To Get Enough Zinc for the Vegan and Vegetarian.
Which Squash Alternatives Can I Use?
I also like to use Kabocha Squash in this recipe, which also results in a nice creamy flavour. Sweet potato and yam in place of squash also works well, or a combination of yam and butternut squash. Acorn squash lentil soup is also very tasty; you will need to use two for this recipe.
What Spice Alternatives Can I Use?
If you are not a fan of curry, you can opt to leave the curry powder, cumin and coriander out. The onion and garlic offer enough flavour that the recipe does not need the extra spices. Additionally, I love making a spicy butternut squash lentil soup by adding more chillies.
Should the Lentil Soup Be Chunky or Blended?
After the butternut squash lentil soup is finished cooking, you have the option of taking a potato masher or pastry cutter and mashing up the squash chunks which leaves with a nice hearty chunky butternut squash lentil soup. Alternatively, you can use a stick blender to puree the soup to form a creamy consistency. A blender can be used as well, just make sure it has a steam vent when blending hot liquids.
Making A Vegan Butternut Squash Curry Lentil Soup
This dish is naturally vegan. Serving it with some plain vegan yogurt, or a drizzle of coconut cream is a great alternative to cream.
Making A Gluten-Free Butternut Squash Curry Lentil Soup
This soup is naturally gluten-free, but do make sure that if you are using a premade or powdered vegetable stock that it does not contain any gluten (wheat, barley or rye based ingredients).
My Other Favourite Lentil Soup Recipes
If you have checked out some of my other recipes you probably know I’m a big fan of lentil soups. This is one of my favourite recipes for introducing legume-skeptics to the world of lentils as the red lentils break apart nicely and are barely recognizable.
Some of my other favourites lentil soups include:
- Easy Lentil Soup with Kale
- Mixed Lentil and Bean Winter Warming Soup
- Vegetarian Greek Lentil Soup with Lemon and Feta.
Butternut Squash Curry Lentil Soup
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 medium onion diced
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 1 small red chili minced (optional)
- 1 tbsp curry powder
- 1 tsp cumin ground
- 1 tsp coriander groud
- 1/2 tsp turmeric ground
- 800 g butternut squash skinned, de-seeded and cut into 3/4" cubes (about 4 cups)
- 1 1/2 cups red lentils dry
- 6 cups vegetable stock organic
- 1 lemon juiced
- Rinse the red lentils. This is important to avoid biting into any tiny little pebbles.
- Heat the olive oil in a large soup pot over medium heat. Add the onions and gently fry until translucent, about 3 minutes. Add garlic, chilli and all spices and fry until fragrant, about another 30 seconds.
- Add the diced squash and reduce the heat. Cover the pot and let the squash cook for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Once the squash has softened add the vegetable stock and bring to a boil.
- Next, add the red lentils to the soup mix and let simmer for about 15 minutes or until the lentils have completely broken apart. Check to make sure the squash is nice and tender. Add more water or stock if the soup gets too thick.
- Now for decision time, do you like your soup chunky or blended? Sometimes I like to mash my soup with a potato blender, and sometimes it is nice to have a blended soup. If you have a hand held stick blender this is usually the easiest to use.
- Serve with a squeeze of lemon juice. This is the secret ingredient. Not only does it make the soup taste great, but it also helps you to absorb the iron from the lentils more efficiently. I also like to eat mine with a dollop of natural yogurt or a drizzle of coconut cream for a vegan version.
Decrease the Sodium: Make your own vegetable stock with leftover onion skins, leek tops and carrot tips.
Make it Vegan: Omit the yogurt, and use a cashew cream instead or a drizzle of coconut cream.
Squash Alternatives: Try it with Kabocha squash, or sweet potato or yam.
Lentil Alternatives: Try it with yellow or green split peas, or a 28oz can of drained chickpeas.
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Rachel Dickens, The Conscious Dietitian, is a Registered Dietitian and Certified Diabetes Educator. She graduated with her Masters in Nutrition and Dietetics in 2010 from Griffith University. She strives to provide evidence-based nutrition information with a focus on plant-based nutrition and share some of her favourite seasonal recipes and sustainable eating tips.