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Our Favorite Soup

I took a cooking class a few years ago called "Fabulous Fall Soups." It lived up to its billing. Every soup we made was a savory delight. The soup I make more than any other is the Autumn Harvest Lentil Soup.

While there's quite a bit of chopping involved, it's a simple, straightforward recipe that doesn't require you to make a stock. It's also great to make in stages. Don't have time to do it all in one night? Interrupted by a crisis demanding your attention? You can easily pick up wherever you left off. I usually double the recipe and freeze in individual screw-top containers for lunches. If you do this, don't double the amount of water or the soup will be too thin. Add half again as much. Also, you'll need two large pots. You don't need huge stock pots, just something big enough so you can comfortably combine the lentils with the vegetables.

Update: Nowadays, I make this without the lentils. You can just cook everything in one big pot. You may wish to add a few extra veggies instead.

Autumn Harvest Lentil Soup (Adapted, just barely, from Myra Kornfeld)
1 cup red lentils, rinsed and sorted
4 cups water
bay leaf
2 T extra virgin olive oil
2 medium onions, cut into small dice (about 2 cups)
5 garlic cloves, minced
3 inch piece peeled, minced fresh ginger root
2 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp ground coriander
2 cups butternut squash, cut into 1/2-inch dice (1/2 lb)
1 medium parsnip, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch dice (about 1/2 cup)
2 medium carrots,
peeled and cut into 1/2-inch dice (about 1 cup)
1 1/2 cups water
2-3 T fresh-squeezed lemon juice

1 bunch spinach, cleaned, torn into small pieces or a 7-oz bag baby spinach

1. Add the lentils, 4 cups of water, the bay leaf and 1 tsp salt to a medium saucepan (or larger if doubling recipe). Cover and bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer partially covered 20 minutes. The lentils should be tender. Remove the bay leaf. Puree the lentils with an immersion blender or just whisk until creamy. I like both results.

2. Warm the olive oil in a large skillet (or stock pot if doubling recipe). Add the onions and sweat them over medium low heat for about 7 minutes, until softened. Add the garlic, ginger, cumin, coriander; saute another 3 minutes. Add the butternut squash, parsnip, carrots, 1/2 tsp salt and 1 1/2 cups water. Cover and simmer about 10 minutes or until the vegetables are soft.

3. Add the lemon juice and spinach and stir. Add the lentils and simmer 5 - 10 minutes to allow the flavors to meld. Add a generous pinch of cayenne. Taste and add more salt, lemon juice, and cayenne as desired. As with most soups, this one is delicious served right away and even better the next day.