I’m not sure when it happened, exactly, but a few months ago I decided that I could really use a Vitamix. There wasn’t a real reason and I didn’t know exactly what I’d do with it or how I’d get it, but I wanted one, and I remained fixated on this (expensive) household item, dreaming up all sorts of ways I’d be able to use it and how much *easier* my time in the kitchen would be if I had one. I even got my mom, who had never even heard of a Vitamix, deeply curious about it. (She now owns one and uses it multiple times a day.)
So, for Christmas (and my birthday), my parents generously gifted a Vitamix to me, and it has earned a coveted spot underneath a shelf in my kitchen on the floor where all the other things that don’t fit anywhere else go. It’s easily accessible, and I use it just about every day. Could I have lived without it? Umm, yes, definitely, but now that I have it and its 7-year warrantee, I enjoy messing around with it whenever I can.
With the exeption of the one time a cauliflower puree with raw cauliflower and no liquid was attempted in the Vita (wasn’t me!), we have had a very easy-going and mutually beneficial relationship.
I’ve been asked (often) what I use the blender for. (Usually to the tune of, “What the hell does this blender do? Turn food to gold?”) Personally, I enjoy making homemade almond milk, smoothies with spinach or any other vegetable (which can barely be detected, in taste!), protein shakes, and, most especially, for pureeing soups. The way the vitamix purees soups is ridiculous. The results are creamy and velvety, with a texture that’s silky smooth and rich.
This particular soup, which I put together on a whim one night after not really being able to decide what to make for dinner, may look simple, but it’s so much more detailed and nuanced than it appears. First, the red lentils and butternut squash provide a great deal of heft to the soup, making it perfectly filling as a meal without any other fillers (although toasted pita bread pairs very well with it). They’re both full of protein and fiber, and, once seasoned with the curry powder and cayenne, develop a rounder, more full flavor that begins simply with the first slurp, and then becomes more and more vibrant and rich with each spoonful.
If you don’t like too much heat in your food, you should probably tone down the spices a bit and use half of the curry powder and either just a pinch of cayenne, or none at all. The addition of some sort of dried fruit or the pomegranate aerils, which I chose to use as garnish, lend a perfect amount of subtle sweetness to the thick, spicy soup. The nuts on top provide a texture contrast as well, and a welcome, interesting change of pace throughout the soup eating venture.
Even though this winter has been useasonably mild in New York, the way the nights grow dark so early and the temperatures chill a bit at night, give a warm bowl of this soup magical warming and comforting abilities. Best of all, it’s relatively low maintenance (chop, stir, simmer, blend), and economical, too. Even if the Vitamix you’ve blended it in isn’t.
One Year Ago: Homemade Oreos
Curried Butternut Squash & Red Lentil Soup
Yield: 3-4 servings
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 40 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 pound butternut squash, cubed (about 3 cups)
1 red onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon curry powder
1 teaspoon cayenne
2 cups vegetable stock
1 cup water
1 cup red lentils
pepitas, for garnish (optional)
pomegranate arils, for garnish (optional)
1. In a large, heavy bottomed pot or dutch oven, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion, cook for 5 minutes until soft and a bit brown before adding the garlic, a pinch of salt and pepper, curry powder and cayenne, if using. Stir to combine and toast the spices with the onion and garlic until fragrant, 2-3 minutes. Add the butternut squash, combine it with the other ingredients, and sautee for 5 minutes.
2. Add the vegetable stock, water and lentils to the pot and stir to combine. Let the mixture come to a boil before reducing the heat to low and covering the pot. Allow the soup to simmer for 20-25 minutes. At this point the lentils and butternut squash should be fully cooked and soft to the bite.
3. Transfer the soup to a blender and blend on high for 1-2 minutes, until completely smooth. You can use an immersion blender to do this, instead, if you have one.
4. Pour the soup back into the pot on the heat, make sure it's heated through, and taste to see if you need more salt, pepper or curry powder. If you need more, add it now and stir everything to combine. Add water if you feel the soup is too thick.
5. Serve the soup hot, in bowls, garnished with pepitas and pomegranate arils or any sort of nut/seed/dried fruit combination you have at home.
*If you'd like a carby side to serve with the soup, toasted pita chips or even regular toasted bread work well.