red lentil butternut squash soup with spinach

Every March, I remember all over again that March can be awful because weather is often cold and snowy, or dreary and rainy.  It’s not winter, and it’s not summer or even spring.  That’s why soup is perfect in March, and sharing soup with friends takes the bull by the horns.  Sharing soup helps keep the moody blues* away.  The aroma of soup and laughter around the table is the best medicine of all.  Who then cares about bad weather?!?  We take heart knowing spring is on its way.

Red lentils have a nutty flavor, which makes this soup delectable.  And lentils, in general, have lots of health benefits including but not limited to managing blood sugar and lowering cholesterol (it’s the fiber that’s largely responsible). Red lentils are also rich in protein and have goodly amounts of iron.

Makes enough for 6-8

2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) 2 stalks celery, sliced (about 2 C)
1 large onion, chopped (about 3-4 C) 2 carrots, sliced (about 2-3 C)
1 Tbsp minced fresh ginger 2 C chopped tomatoes
1 Tbsp minced fresh garlic ¼ C tomato paste
1 Tbsp curry powder ½ tsp ground nutmeg
1½ C red lentils 8 C water
1 lb butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cubed (about 6 C) 1½ C coconut milk (14 oz can)
1 C chopped fresh cilantro 4 C baby spinach
 salt & pepper (or Grains of Paradise) to taste

Gently warm EVOO in a soup kettle.  Add onion, ginger and garlic.  Sauté until onion is soft, about 5 minutes.  Add curry powder and stir to coat.  Then add lentils and vegetables together with water and nutmeg.  Bring soup to a boil, reduce heat to low, cover pot and simmer 30 minutes, or until lentils and squash are tender.  Then add coconut milk and spinach together with salt and pepper to taste.  (Try Grains of Paradise instead of pepper for a complex, layered flavor that is divine.)  Simmer soup another five minutes and serve with a garlicky green salad.

* What else can you do to stave off the moody blues?  Six Brazil nuts a day is said to help because they’re rich in selenium.  So try some food as medicine!