Squash Soup To Warm The Cockles

Squash is a very starchy vegetable, so it makes a beautiful velvety smooth soup. However, for those of us who are trying to be a little more carb conscious and want to maintain constant blood sugar levels (important for energy conservation and figure maintenance) you need to increase the protein content of any meal containing a quick release starch like squash. The easy way to do this with a soup is to add some pulses - here in the form of Puy Lentils.

Roast Squash and Puy Lentil Soup (4 portions)

half a butternut squash
2 onions (red or white) finely chopped
3 handfuls puy lentils
salt and pepper
knob of butter

2 tbsp whole milk yogurt
1 clove garlic
olive oil
see bottom of page for other options

Peel and de seed half a medium squash - butternut, Turk's head etc. This recipe works best with dense fleshed squashes. Cut it into large chunks and roast it on a lightly oiled tray in a hot oven until it’s soft. Or use half a squash that you have roasted for another meal.

Heat a large heavy bottomed saucepan and add three tablespoons of oil and a knob of butter. When the butter starts to foam add the onions with a twist of salt and fry gently until they are a deep golden brown colour. Cook them on a very low heat and stir every few minutes or so. This takes about 20 minutes, you can’t rush it!

While the onion is caramelising, boil up 3 small handfuls of puy lentils/brown lentils until tender but not mushy. Drain the lentil cooking water into the onions through a sieve and add the squash into the pan. Set the lentils aside for now. Simmer for 5 minutes.

Liquidise squash and onion in a blender and add stock or water until a thick creamy consistency. You may need to do this in two batches. Put back on the heat, season with salt, pepper and lemon juice and add the cooked lentils.

Serve with a couple of spoonfuls of the following yogurt mixture on top. In a pestle and mortar, mash the garlic with a pinch salt till it is smooth. Stir in two tablespoons of live whole milk yogurt (or 1 ½ tbsp of Greek yogurt let down with some milk) and a teaspoon of fruity olive oil.

The soup is really bought to life by any combination of the following sprinkled on after the yogurt: whole cumin seeds, aniseeds, fennel, nigella, sesame or caraway seeds (toasted in a dry pan until the warm spice scent rises), Turkish chili flakes (pul biber) or urfa chili flakes (urfa biber) sprinkled over, chopped spring onions, fresh herbs such as, parsley, mint, coriander or dill, or my favourite addition, half a small cooking chorizo cut into 1cm square chunks and fried in a teaspoon of olive oil till just starting to crisp– sprinkle over the soup and drizzle on a little of the delicious smoky red oil.

Accompany with a green salad or dark greens steamed and dressed with lemon juice, black pepper and butter, and maybe some wholemeal pitta bread cut into triangles and toasted till crisp with some humus to dip.