This soup is really a meal, thanks to the protein-rich red lentils. Well-spiced and flavorful, it can stand on its own, but it’s elevated by the addition of garnishes, which is how we feel about most soups. Try extra-virgin olive oil, thick yogurt, or sour cream for swirling on top, followed by a sprinkle of chopped cilantro and thinly sliced scallions.
- 1 medium kabocha squash
- 6 cloves garlic, divided
- 2 tbsp sunflower oil
- 1-1/2 cups leeks, finely chopped
- 1 stalk celery, minced
- 1 tsp smoked paprika
- 1/2 tsp ground cumin
- 1 cup dry hard cider
- 1 cup red lentils
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 tsp salt
- 7 cups water (or half water and half chicken stock)
- 1/4 cup cider syrup
- 1 cup chopped Swiss chard
- 1 cup whole milk (or non-dairy milk of your choice)
- Extra-virgin olive oil, yogurt, or sour cream, for garnish (optional)
- Chopped cilantro and thinly sliced scallions, for garnish (optional)
- Preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit, and oil a baking sheet.
- Cut the squash in half, scoop out the seeds, and place face-down on the oiled baking sheet. Stick 5 of the garlic cloves (don’t remove the papery skins) into the cavities of the squash. Roast for 30 minutes, or until the squash is completely soft.
- Heat the sunflower oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the leeks and celery, and sweat, stirring regularly, until they begin to soften and turn translucent, about 5 to 8 minutes. Stir in the paprika and cumin, and then add the hard cider to deglaze the pot.
- Scoop out the flesh of the roasted squash, and add it to the pot. Remove the skins from the roasted garlic cloves, and add the garlic to the pot, along with the lentils, bay leaf, salt, water, and cider syrup. Increase the heat to high and bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low. Cover and simmer for 1 hour.
- Remove the bay leaf, and then, using an immersion or stand blender, puree the soup. (Let it cool a little first if you’re using a stand blender.)
- Bring the soup back to a simmer over medium-low heat. Add the chard, and cook, uncovered, for 10 minutes. Crush the remaining clove of garlic, and add it to the soup. Slowly stir in the milk, and heat for another few minutes, making sure it doesn’t boil. Serve hot, topped with garnishes, if using.
For more cider recipes visit Apple Cider is the Perfect Ingredient for Fall Recipes.
Excerpted from Ciderhouse Cookbook © by Jonathan Carr and Nicole Blum, with Andrea Blum; photography © by Colin Price and © by Mars Vilaubi; used with permission from Storey Publishing. You can buy this book from our store: Ciderhouse Cookbook.