Curried Butternut Squash and Red Lentil Soup

By Ann Fulton

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Red lentils add a hearty dose of protein and minerals to this much-loved seasonal soup, yet no one would ever know they’re there. This Curried Butternut Squash and Red Lentil Soup is kosher, gluten-free, easily made vegan, and so very satisfying!  


Many of us hardly know what we’re making for dinner next week, let alone next month. Patti Spencer, however, is on the verge of beginning her annual preparations for a Passover menu that will provide breakfast, lunch and dinner to a large group of family and friends throughout the entire eight-day holiday in April.

By day, Patti is a local estate and tax lawyer, writer and expert witness.  She has always loved to cook, but her passion grew when she became an observant Jew 20 years ago and had to reinvent many of her favorite recipes to conform to a newfound kosher diet.

Patti observed that a lot of American kosher food—think chicken soup, roast brisket, and potato kugel—is really European peasant food. While enjoying these classics, Patti discovered that there was so much more to kosher eating and that it could include cuisine from around the globe.

After years of cooking and experimenting, Patti amassed enough recipes to pen two volumes of a cookbook entitled Unorthodox Kosher Cooking. Many of the books’ recipes are family favorites that she modified to be kosher. Others came from magazines, cookbooks, and friends. The second volume focuses on international cuisine, but it’s everyday peasant and street food that Patti showcases. Both books lean toward healthy fare and include an abundance of fresh produce, whole grains, and quality meats.

Although I had met Patti previously, it wasn’t until I read a newspaper article several years ago describing her extensive Passover preparations that I fully understood her passion for creating in the kitchen. I contacted Patti afterwards and she graciously sent me a copy of each of her books.

One of the entries I have returned to many times is the following butternut squash soup. I’ve always been a fan this winter classic with its velvety texture and subtle sweetness, but what caught my attention in Patti’s version was her inclusion of red lentils.

As the sweetest and nuttiest of the lentil varieties, red lentils do more than just add a protein punch to this satisfying soup. They complement the flavor of the squash and, because they break down when cooked, blend seamlessly into and add thickness to the final dish. Additionally, the pretty pinkish-orange color bolsters the soup’s already vibrant hue rather than muddying it like a brown or green lentil would.


If you don’t have an immersion blender, a regular blender may be used to blend this protein-rich soup into velvety perfection.


When roasted, the seeds from the butternut squash make a fun, crunchy garnish.  As an option, a drizzle of Sriracha and/or a swirl of Greek yogurt may also be used.

Curried Butternut Squash & Red Lentil Soup - This flexible recipe is nutrient-dense, protein-packed and brimming with warm flavors. Easy to make vegetarian/vegan

For those who like to see the nutritional data on recipes, this is a screen shot of the data provided for this soup when using the link provided here.  Any recipe can be copied and pasted into this tool.  Just make sure to enter the number of serving sizes and modify according to any ingredients you may add or subtract.


Curried Butternut Squash and Red Lentil Soup
Red lentils add a hearty dose of protein and minerals to this much-loved seasonal soup, yet no one would ever know they’re there. For those who enjoy a little extra sweetness in their butternut squash soup, try swapping a cup or so of the chicken stock with apple cider–or add a peeled and seeded sweet apple or pear along with the squash. For extra creaminess, coconut milk or cream make fine additions. Finally, for a fun garnish or a tasty snack, toss the squash seeds with a drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkle of salt, and then toast or bake until crisp.

Yields approximately 6 servings.
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
  • 2 teaspoons curry powder
  • 1 (2-1/2 pound) butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cubed (see notes*)
  • 1 quart (4 cups) chicken broth (substitute vegetable stock for a vegetarian option)
  • 1 (15-ounce) can diced tomatoes, with juice
  • 1 cup red lentils (pinkish/orange color, sometimes labeled as “split” lentils)
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (more or less to taste**)
  • 2 tablespoons honey***
  • Optional garnish: cilantro and/or toasted and lightly salted squash seeds
  1. Heat the olive oil in a large, heavy-bottomed pot over medium-high heat. Once hot, add the onion and sauté for about 5 minutes or until the onion is soft and translucent. Add the garlic, ginger and curry powder and cook for another minute, or until fragrant but not burning, stirring constantly.
  2. Immediately add the squash, broth, tomatoes in juice, lentils, salt and cayenne. Bring to a boil. Cover the pot, reduce the heat and simmer for 25 minutes, plus or minus 5 minutes, or until the squash is very tender.
  3. Puree with an immersion blender, or carefully transfer the mixture to a blender and blend, in batches if necessary, until smooth. Stir in the honey, and top with the optional garnishes. Leftovers become even more flavorful as the flavors meld (making this a perfect make-ahead meal) and freeze well.
  • *If you prefer to use precut butternut squash, use 2 pounds of peeled pieces.
  • **If uncertain about the level of spiciness, start with 1/8 teaspoon of cayenne pepper. This will provide a hint of flavor without burning one’s tongue. Alternatively, red pepper flakes may be used; 1/4 teaspoon is a good starting point when using red pepper flakes. Sriracha sauce or harissa would also be delicious options to add flavor and spiciness.
  • ***I have ever so slightly adapted the original recipe, which did not contain honey. This small amount does not add significant sweetness but does round out the flavors nicely.
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For anyone who may be interested, Patti mentioned that she still has some cookbooks available and they can be purchased for $19.95 each. If interested, email Patti at In keeping with her day job, Patti also wrote a book entitled Your Estate Matters, which is available on Amazon.


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  1. Barbara Pinson

    I was gifted with a ton of winter squash a few weeks ago. I made this today and it is delicious. I followed the recipe exactly, but used homemade stock from the freezer. I know I’ll be making this again.

    1. Ann Post author

      Barbara, What a lovely gift! I’m delighted this soup put some of it to good use and that the recipe is a keeper. Homemade stock is always a treat to have on hand, isn’t it?

  2. Leigh

    Looks fabulous, and I love the inclusion of lentils. I make a sweet potato and lentil soup, so I like that this will give a similar flavor with fewer carbs. Just note that if one uses chicken broth, the addition of yogurt wouldn’t adhere to kosher laws.

  3. Autumn

    Many thanks for this lovely recipe. It was quick, easy, and really, really good! I used what I had on hand– roasted squash I’d had in the freezer since October, vegetable broth, and ground ginger powder. I also upped the lentils, left out the honey, and threw in some leftover coconut milk I had in the fridge (about a cup) at the end. I didn’t puree it, so it was like a rich, thick, warming stew. Real winter comfort food! I served it with homemade dill-casserole bread, and dark beer. I’ve been bringing the leftovers to work for lunch every day for the last week, and I’m still not sick of it!

    I have some mobility issues with my hands so peeling squash is very difficult for me and the pre-peeled and cubed stuff is just too expensive to fit into my tight food budget, so the next time I make this soup I’m going to try it with canned pumpkin. That way (if it’s good) I can make it any time instead of having to wait for a “good day” when I can peel and cut up another squash.

    1. Ann Post author

      Thanks for the wonderful feedback, Autumn. I’m thrilled you’ve been enjoying this. Butternut squash can be hard to peel, and you are right that the pre-cut options tend to coast more. As an option, you could try microwaving the whole, unpeeled squash just long enough to soften the skin–just make sure to pierce it a few times first. This should make it much easier to remove and possibly make this soup something you can enjoy more often.