spicy lentil and pumpkin soup

Some days I think I should just rename this blog ‘I ♥ Soup’ or ‘Queen of Soups’, because we seem to be getting through lot of it around here at the moment. Tis the season, I guess. We all crave something hot, simple and hearty when the weather is playing silly buggers and daylight is just a dim memory. 

And right now I feel like the soup witch as I huddle over my bubbling cauldron of mysterious gloop, mumbling incantations to ward off the winter blues (and cackling like a mad ‘un, of course).

Except it’s just a big pot on the stove, filled with spicy dal-pumpkin soup and I’m not that bad or mad (yet) – just wishing February would get its skates on and disappear. It’s such an uninspiring time for anyone who loves cooking.

So it’s a big thanks to Holler at Tinned Tomatoes and Lisa at Lisa’s Kitchen for coming up with No Croutons Required – a new monthly challenge to create a veggie soup or salad, sometimes according to a theme. It’s the kick in the backside I’ve needed to look at my kitchen cupboards and cookbooks with a fresh eye.

The inaugural challenge is to cook a veggie soup ‘that even the most carnivorous diner would drool over’. Hence my witchy attempts to cast a spell over all soup-lovers out there with this offering from Nigel Slater 😉

Silky roasted pumpkin marries perfectly with the grainy texture of the lentils… the zingy spices make this a soup to warm your soul as well as your body… the fresh note of coriander lifts your spirits, whispering of better, brighter times around the corner. And in these dark, dreary days, who couldn’t do with a bit of hope like that in their belly?

Just remember, I’ll turn you all into toads if you don’t like it.

Dal and pumpkin soup from The Kitchen Diaries by Nigel Slater

Serves 4 generous bowlfuls

You’ll need:

a small onion, peeled and roughly chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
walnut-sized knob of ginger, cut into thin shreds
little bit of olive oil
225g split red lentils, picked over and washed
1 teaspoon ground tumeric
1 teaspoon ground chilli
250g pumpkin, peeled weight, cut into fat chunks
small bunch coriander, roughly chopped
1.5 litres veg or chicken stock

1. Put the onion, garlic, ginger and olive oil in a large, heavy-based saucepan and cook over a medium heat for a couple of minutes. Add the lentils and pour in the stock. Bring to the boil, then turn down to an enthusiastic simmer. Stir in the tumeric and chilli and leave to simmer, covered, for 20 minutes.

2. While the soup is cooking, bring a medium-sized pan of water to the boil. Boil the pumpkin pieces for 10 minutes until they are tender enough to take a skewer without much pressure. Drain and set aside. (Or roast it in the oven for 20 to 30 mins at 200C/gas mark 6.)

3. Remove the lid from the lentils and turn up the heat, boiling hard for 5 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat, then add the drained pumpkin. Put the soup through the blender until smooth. Stir in the roughly chopped coriander and check the seasoning (Nigel mentions that he likes more than the usual amount of salt in this soup). 

Cook’s notes

I didn’t have any ground chilli, so I guesstimated with some chilli flakes. Seemed to do the trick.

I roasted the squash – I was shoving a bunch of other veggies into the oven, so it made sense.

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