Before I get to today's recipe, I have a bit of news to share...tomorrow morning I'll be off to the airport for what I hope will be an exciting trip! I'm going to Singapore for an international research conference, followed by a brief trip over to Thailand for some much-needed vacation time. I'll be gone for about two weeks in total, and while the majority of my time in Singapore will be devoted to work, I hope to have some adventures and see some sights while I'm there too! And of course I'm looking forward to the food - I've heard some good things about the variety of cuisines available in Singapore, and there should be plenty of vegetarian options for me!
But don't worry, I won't forget about you guys while I'm away! I apologize in advance if I fall behind on visiting all of my favourite blogs and leaving comments, but I still hope to find some time to post a recipe or two during my trip....and maybe I could share a glimpse of some of the food I'm eating over there if you're interested too.
So to kick off my little adventure, I thought I would share this recipe for a soup I made recently that incorporates a few of the flavours from Thai cuisine. To make the soup, red lentils are simmered with butternut squash until tender, then pureed until they are nice and creamy. Next, a mixture of coconut milk and Thai red curry paste are stirred into the soup to make it even richer and spicier, and a final squeeze of lime juice adds one more dimension of flavour!
This was the type of soup that warms your whole body and actually left me feeling really full as a meal on its own. The spice level was just high enough to provide a kick of heat without being too strong (I actually would have liked it just a touch spicier). I also loved the roasted squash seeds that I added as a garnish for an extra layer of crunch, but feel free to leave those out.
Red Lentil & Butternut Squash Soup
Adapted from Williams-Sonoma and Marcus Samuelsson
1 butternut squash (about 2 lbs)
1 tsp coconut oil (or other oil)
1/2 a large red onion, peeled and diced
1 tbsp minced ginger
1 clove garlic, minced
3 cups vegetable broth
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 cup dried red lentils
1.5 tsp thai red curry paste
1 cup light coconut milk
Juice of 1 lime
Fresh cilantro for garnish
First, prepare the squash: Prick holes in the skin with a fork and microwave for about 1 and half minutes to soften. Cut off the skin with a knife. Scoop out the seeds and set them aside (they will make a nice garnish for the soup). Cut the squash into 1” pieces.
Preheat the oven to 350°. Heat the coconut oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onion and cook for a few minutes, until softened. Add the ginger and garlic and cook for 1 more minute, stirring frequently.
Add the diced squash, vegetable broth, salt and red lentils to the pot. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer for 20-25 minutes, until the squash is tender and the soup has thickened.
Meanwhile, prepare the squash seeds by rinsing them and patting them dry, then spread onto a baking sheet. Drizzle with a bit of olive oil and season with your favourite spices (I used salt, cumin and paprika). Place in the preheated oven and roast for 15-20 minutes, until you can hear them popping. Remove from oven and set aside.
Puree the soup using an immersion blender, or by transferring it to a blender in batches. Return soup to the pot and keep warm over low heat.
In a small bowl or measuring cup, mix the curry paste with the coconut milk, stirring until the paste has dissolved. Add this mixture to the pot, stirring until it is completely mixed in and heated through.
When ready to serve, stir in the lime juice. Season with more salt and pepper if desired and garnish servings with fresh chopped cilantro and a handful of the roasted squash seeds.
Makes 4-5 servings.