I found this delicious recipe on the back of a package of red lentils once. I originally bought it at Williams-Sonoma. Unfortunately, I can’t remember the brand; it was long ago and they don’t carry it anymore. I know Whole Foods Market carries red lentils. I’ve been making this soup for years. It’s so easy to make and it’s a great lunch for a chilly afternoon, or a starter for a simple dinner. It’s also quite filling and healthy!
The only thing I changed for this recipe is that I add calabaza. For those of you who are not familiar with what this is…in English it’s called calabash. It’s a winter squash. I find it very easily here in South Florida because it’s a tropical type gourd. It grows from the calabash tree in the West Indies or the tropical areas of The Americas. It’s a staple for me in Cuban style soups and beans. If you can’t find it in your local market, you can use any other squash you like. Either butternut or acorn squash will work great; they’re sweet though, so you might want to add a little extra spice to balance it out.
- 1 cup red lentils
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 1 onion, chopped
- 1 small shallot, cut into quarters-to be removed
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1/2 tomato sauce, or a nice size ripe tomato; seeds removed and d
- 1 tbsp tomato paste
- 2 tsp ground cumin
- 1/8 tsp chili powder
- 4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
- 1 – 2 carrots, diced
- 1 -1 1/2 cups diced calabaza or other winter squash
- 1 1/2 tsp salt
- Wash and dry produce. Pick through the lentils; sometimes the package can contain little pieces of foreign objects…maybe little rocks or pieces of earth??? Let’s just say those are rocks… Rinse the lentils in cool tap water and place them in a small bowl. Add enough water to the bowl to cover the lentils and set aside.
- Chop the onions, mince garlic, peel and dice carrots and squash (remove seeds). Heat a 4 quart pot with 3 tbsp olive oil. Add the onion, shallot and garlic and cook on medium heat for 5 minutes, until tender. Add carrots and squash and cook to coat with the olive oil.
- Add tomato sauce and paste. Add the spices. Cook for another 5 minutes. Add the broth. Carefully pour the water out of the bowl containing the lentils (you can use a strainer) and add them to the pot. Bring to a boil, cover and reduce heat to medium/low. simmer for 30-40 minutes, until the lentils are tender. Add salt and pepper. If you would like a thicker consistency, you can uncover the pot and simmer on low for about 10 more minutes. Enjoy! Serves 4-6