I promised a couple of friends a healthy, tasty vegan soup recipe. Here it is. In typing it up, I am revealing that I have two crutches in the kitchen:
Crutch one: Muir Glen Fire Roasted Tomatoes. I put this in everything. Je ne regrette rien.
Crutch two: Coconut milk. I don’t have any brand loyalty or recommendations. Go catch a free range coconut and grind it up if you like.
Both of these go into what I’m arbitrarily calling Squash Soup, but it’s really just a pantry hodgepodge that worked well enough to repeat a couple times. I think it may be the lentils that make it so satisfying.
You will need:
- 1 medium butternut squash — about three pounds
- 1 smallish sweet potato — about the size of a regular potato
- 1 cup red lentils
- 1 medium onion
- 3 cloves of garlic
- 1 15.5-ounce can of tomatoes (the big can)
- 1 12 (or so) ounce can of coconut milk
- 1 32-ounce brick pack of vegetable broth, or an equivalent amount of homemade stock
- 2 tablespoons oil
Spices: I recommend a heaping tablespoon of salt, a half teaspoon of fenugreek, plus pinches of white pepper and paprika. But that’s just me; I like fenugreek. Salt, pepper, and some variety of curry powder would work. I put lemon zest in it once, and that was pretty tasty. Season to taste, I guess!
Preheat the oven to 350.
Cut the squash into quarters lengthwise, scoop out the seeds, and place the slices skin-side-up in a baking pan. Tuck the sweet potato in a corner. Stick the whole apparatus in the oven and leave it alone for half an hour. I neither oil nor cover the squash, which leads to some slight unevenness in texture. If that is a bug and not a feature in your opinion, you will get softer, more consistent results by covering the pan in foil. That will also make the squash easier to peel.
Cut up the onion. Add the oil to the pan and set to low, then add the onion. When that pan of goodness has been going for about half an hour over low heat, add the crushed garlic and give it another five minutes. If the onions aren’t browning a little, turn up the heat a hair. [If you want, use more onions, add salt and sugar and maybe vinegar, cook for longer and really caramelize them. I’m not saying it’s not worth it. I’m just saying when I spend three hours on a recipe, I usually eat every dang thing in the kitchen while I cook, so I’ve only done this once. Eating a box of crackers, all the fruit and a Luna bar does not really leave one with an appetite for dinner.]
When the onions look and smell good — not burnt, definitely translucent, a little dark, remove from heat.
Check the squash and sweet potato — you’ll probably want to take the sweet potato out and leave the squash for another 10-15 minutes. Bake them both until soft.
Rinse the lentils thoroughly, then add to your soup pot. Pour in your whole box of stock and bring to a boil, then turn down to a simmer. When the lentils are soft, add the garlic and onions. When the sweet potato and squash have softened, take them out of the oven and turn it off. Let them cool a bit before popping them out of their skins.
Add the sweet potato and squash to the lentil mixture and simmer a bit. Add the can of tomatoes. I do like the Muir Glen Fire Roasted Diced Tomatoes, but any can of tomatoes will do nicely. If whole ones are cheaper, use those. The whole shebang is getting blended.
At this point, you can get something you will enjoy with some patience and a potato masher. But what you really want is a blender or food processor. Odds are you will have to do this in stages: Pour some soup in, blend, pour that soup into another pot and blend the rest. At any rate, any way you can, puree until smooth and pour back into the pot. Stir in the coconut milk and spices and bring back up to a gentle simmer.
When this bubbles, it will do that gloppy soup thing and spit at you, so have a lid handy to use as a shield.
And … that’s it! It really is good with a tiny bit of lemon zest. It’s fine for lunch with toast. I’ve served it to company with reasonable results. Freezes well. I eyeballed it and called the huge pot I made 10 servings. Could be more — but basing the arithmetic on that, each bowl works out to about 300-350 calories.
Oh, you want a picture of the finished product? Uh, yeah. I ate it. I’ll update the post next time I make some!