Red lentils are one of my staples. They are non-perishable, quick-cooking, adaptable, and healthy (click on “beans” in the tag cloud to view related posts, including nutrition). You can cook up a pot of red lentil soup or curry almost as quickly as you make boxed mac and cheese. Seriously, they cook in less than 20 minutes or as fast as 10 minutes if you soak them for an hour or two. Imagine my delight when, while stranded in Atlanta by the recent Northeast weather disaster, I found split yellow lentils that are basically small red lentils that are… yellow. You may use either, but be sure you are using the small split lentils—larger lentils take considerably longer to cook.

This makes a deep golden soup—a color that is called “fox” in Japanese—that is as warming and satisfying as the meal itself. If you enjoy spicy food, add a tiny pinch of ground smoked hot pepper to add extra depth to the flavor. Just be careful to not overwhelm the sweetness of the squash and earthiness of the lentils!

Curried Lentil Soup

One generous serving.

2/3 c cubed butternut squash (~1/2” cubes)
¼ c small yellow lentils
1 small clove garlic, trimmed, peeled, and sliced thinly
¼ t cinnamon
1/8 t dried ginger
2 t oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Place all ingredients in a small saucepan and cover with water. Bring to boil, and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 15 to 20 minutes. When the squash and lentils are cooked through, puree carefully. Salt and pepper to taste, and enjoy hot or chilled.