Despite the drastic fluctuations in Ottawa weather and temperatures, it is indeed fall. In my last blog post, I shared a recipe for hemp and oat pumpkin spice muffins that I made recently while cooking for Jackie Beaudoin's yoga retreat in Lac Pemichangan. These muffins were perfect for the yogis and also very seasonal. Another recipe that everybody really loved was my butternut squash and red lentil soup. This is soup is warming and satiating, thanks to a robust mix of spices and a healthy balance of protein, carbohydrates and fat.
Butternut squash is readily available this time of year. It's a variety of winter squash and grown is locally here in Ottawa (and throughout the Western hemisphere). It's touted as an antioxidant super star, thanks to its uniquely high percentage of certain carotenoids. Although butternut squash is not a fatty food, it's interesting to note that it contain omega-3 fats in the form of anti-inflammatory alpha-linolenic acid (ALA). Simply put, butternut squash is an incredibly health supportive food, that offers cancer protective properties. Health benefits aside, it's also delicious and versatile. You can try incorporating butternut squash into stews, soups, spreads, lasagnas, chili, salads, and it can even be added to cakes, brownies and pies. The seeds are edible too and can be roasted in the same way you would roast pumpkin seeds.
This recipe also includes red lentils, one of my favourite fibrous foods. As you may know, fibre helps with weight management, the body's natural detoxification, gut health and protects against colon cancer. One of the main reasons I love red lentils is that they blend, dissolve and even disappear, when added to soups and stews. I like to call them "sneaky lentils" because they can be added to cooked dishes and go unnoticed, even by the pickiest eaters.
Without further ado, please find the recipe below. If you make it, I'd love to hear your feedback. This is one of my favourites, and I'm pretty sure it'll become one of yours too.
BUTTERNUT SQASH SOUP & RED LENTIL SOUP
Vegan ~ Gluten Free ~ Makes 4 servings
1 Tablespoon, coconut oil
1 onion, diced
1 rib of celery, small diced
1 carrot, small diced
1 clove of garlic, minced
1” piece of ginger, peeled and minced
1 cup, red lentils
1 can, coconut milk
4 cups, vegetable stock or water
1 Tablespoon, ground cumin
1 Tablespoon, ground coriander
1 teaspoon, allspice
1 small butternut squash, peeled and diced
1 bunch cilantro stems and leaves, roughly chopped
2 limes, zest and juice
Sea salt & pepper
Chilli flakes or hot sauce, to taste
In a heavy bottomed pot, melt the coconut oil and add the onion, celery, and carrot and a big pinch of sea salt. Cook for a few minutes until the onions start to become translucent and then add ginger and garlic. Cook for 2-3 minutes. Add the lentils and cook for a minute. Add all the spices and stir for another minute.
Add the stock or water, squash, and half of the chopped cilantro. Simmer over medium heat until the squash is soft and the lentils are cooked. Stir in coconut milk.
Add the lime zest and juice and add the remainder of the cilantro. Season with salt and pepper. Enjoy with a sprinkle of chilli flakes or good dousing of hot sauce and a hearty slice bread.