BUTTERNUT + RED LENTIL SOUP

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I'm currently on my third double chocolate cookie despite having all sorts of recipe testing leftovers in the fridge I could cobble into a more nutritious lunch. Can cookies be lunch? I could swipe almond butter on top for protein. Why didn't I give these away like I said I would? 'Tis the season I suppose; always makes me feel like baking, it's getting the baked goods out the door that appears to be the challenge. So in between, there are easy dinners. I have been asked three times for a butternut squash soup recipe by different friends or readers and I realize we only have this stew to reference. I generally prefer my soups chunky, but let's add a pureed one to the archives for good measure. I saw this one while flipping through Melissa Clarks' recent book and it sounded too perfectly simple and spiced not to try. Plus, I had all the ingredients. I swapped in a little curry powder for some of the cumin, added ginger at the end and garnished it with a bit of cilantro and toasted coconut. Optional changes, of course. Cheers to easy dinners, and cookies too, of course.

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BUTTERNUT + RED LENTIL SOUP // Serves 4-6

Adapted from Dinner by Melissa Clark

I find soup thickness to be a matter of taste. You can always add more broth at the end to thin it, but it's tough to go the other way. Start with the yields below, and you can thin it out after if need be.

3 Tbsp. ghee or coconut oil
1 yellow onion, peeled and chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped
2 Tbsp. tomato paste
1 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. curry powder
pinch of cayenne
3/4 tsp. sea salt
fresh black pepper
1 cup red lentils
12 ounces peeled and chopped butternut squash (about one medium squash)
1 qt. low sodium vegetable or chicken broth
13.5 ounce can of coconut milk
fresh ginger, to taste
fresh lime juice, to taste

cilantro and toasted coconut, for garnish

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In a large dutch oven over medium heat, warm the ghee or coconut oil. Add the onion and garlic and saute until soft, about 4 minutes. Add the tomato paste, cumin, curry powder, cayenne, salt and pepper to taste. Cook another minute. Add the lentils, squash, broth and bring it up to a simmer. Turn the heat down to low and cook, partially covered, for 30 minutes until the squash is tender. Stir in the coconut milk to warm through and add grated ginger and fresh lime juice to taste (I used about a 2" nub of ginger and 1 whole lime). Use a blender or immersion blender to make a chunky puree. Season to taste. It probably needs a bit more salt but that is to your discretion.

Garnish to fresh cilantro and toasted coconut. Leftovers will keep covered in the fridge for a week.

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