Friday, March 26, 2010

Pumpkin Red Lentil Soup

So much for spring. I wake up to the temperature below freezing and the windchill well below that.
I guess it's a hot soup day again.

One of my favorites is this pumpkin red lentil soup. My husband, when he was still my fiance, introduced me to a vegetarian version of this recipe that I've adjusted for my taste and whatever is on hand. That's what I love about this soup. It's so convenient and tweakable.

Make it with vegetable stock, chicken broth, coconut milk or a combination. Add grated carrot and ginger. Use roasted pumpkin, canned pumpkin, baked or poached butternut squash or frozen winter squash. Keep the seasoning simple with salt and pepper, add lemon zest, or spice it up with cumin or curry or hot pepper.  Top it with roasted pumpkin or acorn squash seeds, or freshly grated parmesan, or pan toasted bread crumbs or croutons. Serve it with a sandwich, or salad and bread, or build it up by adding some tubettini or orzo pasta to the pot. No matter what you do, it works and my three picky kids will eat it.

The fact that it's healthful is just gravy. There's lots of nutrition and fiber in the pumpkin puree and the lentils.

Roasted Pumpkin and Red Lentil Soup With Tubettini
Serves 8

1/2 cup chopped celery
1/2 cup chopped onion or shallots
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 clove garlic, smashed with flat of chefs knife
1/4 cup dry white wine (optional)
1 quart chicken or vegetable stock
8 oz. red lentils (1/2 pound), sorted and rinsed
1 14-oz. can pumpkin puree (or equivalent quantity roasted pumpkin or other squash)
1/2 cup tubettini pasta (optional)
Salt and pepper, to taste
Parmesan cheese (optional)

1. Chop celery and onion and add to pot together with smashed garlic. Cook on medium-low until translucent, adjusting heat if necessary to avoid browning.

2. Stir in wine and stock and add lentils. Simmer until lentils are soft and break apart, about 30 minutes.

3. Add tubettini pasta and cook according to directions. Just before pasta is cooked, add pumpkin puree and stir to incorporate. Season to taste.

When serving, garnish with freshly shaved parmesan. Allow diners to grind their own pepper on top.

* The "red" lentils I've used always start out an intense orange color, and become a golden yellow during cooking. They also break down much more than the French lentils I also use. That's all normal.

* I have used roasted pumpkin, and roasted butternut and acorn squashes in this recipe. But canned pumpkin is easy to keep on hand and allows you to throw this soup together very quickly. You can also use the precooked pureed winter squash available in the freezer section of the supermarket.

* I go light on the seasoning for my kids, but you can add a teaspoon or more of cumin or a sprig of thyme or cilantro (good with the coconut milk version of the soup), or warm it up with some cayenne or Chinese white pepper (the same kind that puts the heat in hot and sour soup). You can also add a splash of fresh-squeezed lemon juice to brighten it up.

* This recipe is easy to convert to vegan or gluten free. For a vegan version, use vegetable stock and skip Parmesan. For gluten-free soup, use gluten free pasta in place of tubettini.

No comments:

Related Posts with Thumbnails