I love soup all year round but there is nothing like a homemade bowl of scrumptious hearty soup on a chilly Fall day. When I'm creating a new recipe it's usually in part due to having ingredients I need to use and this one included a home grown butternut squash my Dad grew this past summer that had been sitting on my counter for quite some time. (thankfully winter squash lasts forever!) I love to add fresh toppings to warm soup as well and this one is the perfect candidate so make sure to check out all the options in the ingredients list and let me know if you come up with your own ideas too!
2 Tbl olive oil
13 cloves garlic - 3 minced, 8 whole
3 carrots diced
1 sweet onion diced
1 red pepper diced
1 small butternut squash
2 cups french lentils (the small black ones, they are actually speckled but these are the best kind because they hold their shape and don't turn to mush!)
3 cups thinly chopped fresh spinach
1/4 tsp ground mustard
1/4 tsp ground sage
1/4 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/4 chipotle powder
3 Tbl *no chicken soup base bullion (or sub the water for veggie broth)
10 cups water* or veggie broth
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp fresh ground pepper
**Optional toppings: diced fresh avocado, sliced scallions, fresh squeezed lime, tortilla chips
First up, roasting the squash. Preheat the oven to 425. Slice the top and bottom of the squash off and then slice it long ways down the middle, remove the seeds and turn them face down onto a baking pan. Place 4 cloves of garlic in the well of each half of squash and add 1/2 cup of water to the pan. Roast the squash for 30 min. If a knife tip easily pierces the squash, it's ready, otherwise roast for an additional 10-15 min. Let cool and peel off the skin. Some will easily peel by hand, other parts are easily removed with a pairing knife. Diced into small pieces once peeled and set aside in a bowl
In a large soup pot saute the olive oil, garlic, onion, carrot and red pepper until onion begins to turn translucent. Add all the spices and stir well for 1-2min. Add the lentils, water and bullion (or veggie stock if substituting). Bring to a boil and add squash. Simmer for 30 min or until lentils are cooked through. Add fresh chopped spinach and simmer another 5-10min.
Serve hot with toppings of your choice or a side of fresh baked bread!