Now the air has got noticeably crisper, and the evenings are arriving much earlier, I’ve fully embraced the season of soups and stews. My rhythm of cooking has changed from quickly prepped and lightly cooked vegetables and salads, too longer, slower batch cooking. So whilst it can be a little time intensive to begin with, I now have several no-cook days in the week, where all that’s required is heating up a warming soup or stew.
Meal prepping this way is a great time saver and budget friendly too. My pattern is a couple of days of batch cooking with freshly bought ingredients, usually a soup and a couple of stews. Then stocking up the freezer with the results, ready to be pulled out and heated up for quick, cosy meals. The shorter days definitely make me want to wind down earlier, so not having to cook in the evenings is a treat. It gives me a little extra time to relax, and frees up my time in the day to do more whilst my energy is higher.
This recipe is my current favourite autumn soup. It’s thick, hearty and spicy; perfect for a quick lunch on a colder day. The red lentils bulk it up with plant-based protein, making it a substantial meal. When it comes to Butternut squash I do cut corners by buying it already cut and prepared. It saves a lot of time not having to wrestle with it on a chopping board, trying to extract the flesh from its hard shell. Hey, there’s no shame in making life easier.
Spicy Butternut Squash & Red Lentil Soup
- 2-3 tbsp Olive oil
- 1 Large onion, chopped
- 2 Garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 2 Carrots, chopped
- 1 Stick of celery, chopped
- 1 Butternut squash, peeled, diced and deseeded
- 2 tsp Smoked paprika
- 2 tsp Ground cumin
- 1/2 tsp Cayenne pepper
- 300 g Red lentils
- 1.5 ltrs Vegetable stock
- Greek yoghurt, fresh chopped coriander to serve
- Salt and pepper
- Heat the oil in a large saucepan, add the onion and cook until translucent and soft
- Stir in the garlic, carrots and celery and continue to cook for a further 5 minutes
- Add the spices and stir quickly to cook until they become fragrant, around 1 minute
- Toss in Butternut squash and coat with the oil and spices
- Stir in the lentils and pour over the stock. Season with salt and Pepper. Bring to a simmer and cook for 20 minutes or until the vegetables are cooked and the lentils soft.
- Allow to cool slightly then, using a handheld blender, blend until smooth and creamy
- Serve with spoonfuls of greek yogurt and freshly chopped coriander. Season with more salt and pepper and enjoy!