This easy creamy vegan butternut squash soup with red lentils is one of the best recipes for a quick weeknight dinner! Healthy, hearty, creamy, and jam-packed with plant protein.
Time to make a confession. I like the taste of butternut squash considerably more than that of pumpkin... scandalous, I know. Pumpkin is a great addition to dessert, or simply as dessert, like my 3-ingredient Turkish pumpkin candy, but it just simply is not as rich or creamy as butternut squash. That's why I especially love using butternut squash in soups and sauces. When the leaves turn yellow, roasting it whenever I can is a cherished tradition.
Another one of those Fall/Winter traditions is red lentil soup. So how about butternut squash AND red lentil soup??? I struck gold. Grandma's red lentil will forever be my favorite, but this one does come dangerously close.
What You Need to Make Butternut Squash Soup
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- ½ medium onion
- 4 cloves of garlic
- 1 medium butternut squash (about 7 cups)
- 1 cup lentils
- 1 cup cashews
- 2 sprigs of fresh sage or 1 teaspoon dried sage
- ¼ teaspoon turmeric
- 8 cups vegetable stock* (or water & vegetable bouillon)
- 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- 1 ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
- coconut milk, fresh parsley, pumpkin seeds, pine nuts, sage sprigs
How to Prepare Butternut Squash
Roasting Butternut Squash
This is the easiest method if you are not short on time:
- Wash the butternut squash thoroughly,
- Then simply cut the butternut squash in half, lengthwise,
- Scoop out all the seeds— you can roast them for later!
- You don't have to cut it into smaller pieces or peel it.
- Simply drizzle the halved & cleaned squash with olive oil, salt, and pepper then bake at 375F for at least 45 minutes, or until very soft.
It is extremely easy to cut it or to scoop out its meaty part once roasted. I usually eat the skin too since it's very thin anyway— hence the *thorough* washing in the beginning.
Boiling Butternut Squash
If you are in a hurry or don't have access to an oven, boiling butternut squash certainly works too!
- Wash the butternut squash
- Peel it with a vegetable peeler or a very sharp fruit knife
- Cut in half, lengthwise
- Scoop out the seeds
- Rest the halved squash on the level side so that you have a firm surface when cutting
- Simply cut them into cubes.
In case you need further instructions / a visual guide on how to do this, check out Simply Recipes' post featuring all of the above!
How to Make Vegan Butternut Squash Soup with Red Lentil
Firstly, you have to decide whether to roast or simply boil the butternut squash. I very much prefer roasting them for the incredible extra flavor, but if you are short on time then just peel and cut it into small cubes to be boiled with the soup.
To make this super-easy soup, follow the following steps:
- In a large pot, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the chopped onions, and saute until translucent, about 5-7 minutes.
- Also add the diced garlic, turmeric, sage, and cashews, then saute for another few minutes.
- Now add the lentils and butternut squash. Saute for another few minutes, glazing the bottom of the pan with the vegetable broth as necessary.
- Also add the broth, salt & pepper, then bring to a boil.
- Cover and simmer on low heat until the squash falls apart and the lentils are thoroughly cooked, about 40 minutes.
- Once cooked, either use an immersion blender or use a regular blender/food processor, working in batches after the soup is slightly cooled.
- If desired, add more broth or hot water to thin out the soup at any point.
- Lastly, garnish with a combination of any of the following: coconut milk swirls, pumpkin seeds, fresh parsley, pine nuts, fresh sprigs of sage.
Tips for Making the Best Butternut Squash Soup
- Pick a butternut squash that feels heavy for its size.
- Never, ever use old lentils for soup. They will not truly soften, and you will end up with a grainy pulse with a bitter aftertaste. Try to get your legumes and lentils from large stores with high turnover, or check the packaging date if not buying from bulk stores.
- The consistency of the soup is completely up to you. Add or subtract a cup of broth to make it lighter or heavier, respectively.
Variations of Butternut Squash Soup
There are so many variations you can try here that thinking about them is kind of overwhelming. Here are a few things you could add to put your own twist to this recipe:
- 1 can of coconut milk (not the light ones sold in cartons, we are talking real creamy coconut milk that is usually sold in cans)
- 2 baked apples— this will add a sweet flavor note and make it divine. Honeycrisp or Lady Apple would work very well.
- Macadamia nuts instead of cashews— if you are hailing from Australia where cashews are super expensive, just use native Macadamia nuts in the same amount. The same goes for people with allergies, of course.
Then, of course, there are different methods of cooking, such as:
- Instant Pot,
- Slow Cooker, or
- Pressure Cooker
These will cut cooking time by at least half. Simply follow all directions above (except cooking time) and let the gadget do its magic.
If following a whole food plant-based diet, then simply skip the olive oil in this recipe. Instead, use the broth to saute the ingredients. With the generous amount of cashews, the soup will not be lacking creaminess that way. Being a Mediterranean species, I just personally love the flavor of olive oil in... pretty much everything.
Watching out for sodium levels? Either use a low-sodium broth/bouillon or make your own using very little or no salt.
Don’t forget to let me know in the comments if you make this cozy Fall staple!Print