Filling and nutritious squash and lentil soup makes a great main meal soup that can easily be adapted to ring the changes. Perfect for midweek family meals on cooler days.
This vegetable based soup is rich, thick and satisfying enough to stave off hunger pains even on the coldest of days.
The fast 800 diet
My recipe has been adapted from a recipe in the fast 800 diet programme. I started following this healthy weight loss programme in the summer of 2021 and successfully lost a couple of stones in the first 12 weeks following the intensive diet for those who, like me had a lot of weight to lose.
After the initial strict dieting, the programme adapts so that you follow a healthy diet based on what is known as the Mediterranean diet. A low carb, high fibre, high variety diet, based on sensible eating with lots of vegetables and not too much meat fish or dairy.
I have to say that even at its strictest I was never really hungry and I soon learnt to kerb my cravings for high sugar foods (Yes I had to learn to eat less of my bakes - an occupational hazard!).
In the summer eating a lot of salads to keep me satisfied but when the weather is cooler, soup is my friend. This soup is enough to keep you satisfied even on the coldest of days.
What you need to make squash and lentil soup
Pumpkin or squash
You can use any pumpkin or winter squash to make this soup. Each different variety will add its own characteristics and subtle flavour difference to the end result.
Butternut squash is generally available all year round and so is a popular choice. You need about 400g (14oz) diced flesh which is about 1 small or half a large butternut squash
I've used tinned green lentils in my base recipe. You can also buy sachets of vacuum-packed lentils. Both are really convenient and a useful store cupboard standby. If you have time why not batch cook some dried lentils and freeze them for a cheaper alternative.
Carrot, onion, celery and garlic
These add a good base to many soups and stews. Celery is not essential but I always add it if I have some in the refrigerator.
I tend to use vegetable stock for this soup usually made with a stock cube. But I will sometimes use homemade chicken stock if I have some, so long as I'm not serving it to a vegetarian of course.
I always have tins of tomatoes in the cupboard and they feature in many of my family meals. But when tomatoes are plentiful you could add chopped fresh tomatoes and a little extra stock instead.
Step by step how to make squash and lentil soup
1 Sauté the onions, carrot and celery together in a saucepan then stir in the garlic.
2 Add the cubed squash and cook for about 5 minutes.
3 Add the spices and cook for 1 minute.
4 Add the stock tomatoes and lentils.
5 Cook gently until the vegetables are very soft and tender
6 Blend until smooth and serve with garnish of your choice.
This is a hearty soup that I think works best with plenty of texture so a stick blender is ideal. If you prefer a smoother soup then blend the soup in a food processor or blender.
For more tips on making soup read souper tips for tasty soups
Variations to the basic soup
Ideal for autumn, squash and lentil soup is thick, filling and nutritious and has become one of my favourite soups as it is so easy to adapt, you don't feel you are having the same soup each time.
- Smooth or chunky – I have served it here puréed but it you can skip that step and serve it as a chunky soup thats more like a vegetable stew if you prefer.
- Chuck in some Veg – This is an especially good idea if you are serving as the main meal of the day. Try some tender stem broccoli or chuck in a handful or two spinach.
- Spice it up – some extra chilli is always a popular choice for those that like a little more fiery heat and I also find some smoked paprika works well in this soup.
Change the garnishes
- Sauté some slices of spicy chorizo to serve with the soup or fry some cubes of pancetta.
- Cheese is a great addition to soup for a little extra protein if you are not a meat eater. Top with some grated chedder or crumble in some feta which I think goes exceptionally well squash.
- Add a swirl of cream if you have some in the fridge or even a dollope of natural yogurt.
- Sprinkle with some chopped fresh herbs.
How long will the soup keep?
The soup will keep for two to three days in the refrigerator.
Can you freeze the soup?
Yes, this soup is ideal for batch making and freezing. Defrost in the refrigerator or over a low heat and heat until piping hot.
Is the soup suitable for vegetarians or vegans?
The base squash and lentil soup is suitable for both vegetarians and vegans but you will need to serve plain or use a suitable optional garnish.
Opt for a garnish of chopped herbs for vegans and check that any cheese added is suitable for vegetarians. Some cheeses contain animal rennet and are not suitable.
Squash and lentil soup
- Large saucepan
- food processor, stick or goblet blender
- 2 tablespoon oil
- 1 onion chopped
- 1 carrot chopped
- 1 stick celery chopped
- 2 cloves garlic chopped
- 400 g (14oz) squash , peeled and cut into small chunks
- 1 teaspoon ground coriander
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- ¼ teaspoon chilli flakes
- 900 ml (1½pt) vegetable stock
- 2 x 400g (14oz) tins chopped tomatoes
- 400 g (14oz) tin lentils, drained and rinsed
To serve choose from
- Cheddar cheese grated
- Feta cheese crumbled
- Pancetta diced and fried until crisp
- chorizo sliced and fried until crisp
- Chopped fresh herbs
- Heat 2 tablespoon oil in a large saucepan and add 1 chopped onion, 1 chopped carrot and 1 chopped celery stick. Sauté for about 5 minutes until beginning to soften. Add 2 chopped garlic cloves and cook for another minute.
- Add 400g (14oz) squash cut into chunks and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Sprinkle 1 teaspoon each of coriander and cumin plus ¼ teaspoon chilli flakes over the squash and toss to combine.
- Add 900ml (1½pt) vegetable stock, two tins of chopped tomatoes and a tin of lentils. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer gently for 30 minutes.
- Purée the soup in a food processor, goblet blender or use a stick blender. Reheat gently if required and serve with your favourte garnish.
- If adding additional vegetables to the soup add after pureeing. Blanched broccoli or spinach works really well and gives the dish an additional nutrient boost.
- Store leftovers in the fridge for up to 3 days or freeze for up to 3 months.
I have linked this recipe to #CookBlogShare hosted by Chloe at Feast Glorious Feast.