Butternut Squash and Lentil Soup Recipe

Last week my dear friend Florence tweeted a link to Nadya Andreeva’s ayurvedic blog Spinach and Yoga*, and her recipe for yellow lentil and squash soup caught my eye straight away.

I love a good soup of lentils, but I don’t think I’d ever thought to pair their meaty earthiness with the sweet, soft flesh of winter squash. This version was especially appealing for its use of fresh ginger and spices — cumin, coriander, turmeric — and I had just about everything I needed to make it.

I thought I’d be clever and use lentils of three different colors; in the end they all turned the same shade of brown.

What little I know about ayurvedic cuisine is that it’s strictly vegetarian, but I took the liberty of using the super fragrant fish stock I’d made the day before, using the bones and head of a roasted sea bream purchased at Terroirs d’Avenir’s sustainably-sourced fish stall on the increasingly foodie-friendly rue du Nil.

Another change I made to the original recipe was in fact inspired by the stock photo that illustrated it: the tell-tale milky sheen indicated the use of coconut milk, which the recipe itself didn’t include, yet I knew it would make the soup even tastier.

Mini Cookbook of Vegan Staples

I also thought I’d be clever and use lentils of three different colors, green, pink, and yellow. In the end they all turned the same shade of green-brown, but I’m certain the variety of textures had a hand in making this the most wowing soup I’ve made in a while.

Join the conversation!

Have you ever dabbled at ayurvedic cooking? And what’s been your winner soup recipe this winter?

* Coincidentally, I see that Nadya Andreeva is just releasing a book this week, called Happy Belly.

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Butternut Squash and Lentil Soup Recipe

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Total Time: 8 hours, 40 minutes

Serves 6.

Butternut Squash and Lentil Soup Recipe


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 yellow onion, finely minced
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • a 3-cm (1-inch) piece of ginger, peeled and finely minced
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 900 grams (2 pounds) butternut squash, seeded, peeled, and diced into 1,5-cm (1/2") pieces (you can substitute another type of winter squash, such as red kuri, acorn, or delicata)
  • 320 grams (1 1/2 cups) lentils (any color you like or have on hand), soaked 8 hours or overnight, drained, and rinsed
  • 500 ml (2 cups) stock, preferably homemade (vegetable, chicken, or fish stock will all work)
  • 180 ml (3/4 cup) coconut milk
  • fresh mint, finely minced, or fresh cilantro, roughly chopped, for serving
  • chili sauce, for serving (optional)


  1. Heat the oil in a large, heavy-bottomed soup pot. Add the onion, garlic, and salt, and cook over medium heat until softened, stirring regularly.
  2. Stir in the ginger, cumin, coriander, turmeric, and fennel seeds, and cook for a minute, until fragrant.
  3. Add in the butternut squash and lentils, pour in the stock, and add in enough water to cover.
  4. Cover, bring to a simmer, and skim the froth that appears at the surface. Cook for 30 minutes, until the squash and lentils are cooked through.
  5. Stir in the coconut milk, taste, and adjust the seasoning.
  6. Ladle into bowls, top with fresh herbs, and serve with chili sauce.


Adapted from a recipe by Nadya Andreeva.

  • This looks like one of those soups that is actually satisfying… And I love that!!


    • That’s exactly right — it leaves you with a nice and warm feeling.

  • Michelle McMillen

    Mmmm; looks GOOD. I have a sweet potato on hand; think I’ll try substituting that for the winter squash.

    • Excellent suggestion — sweet potatoes would be just as good here. Let me know if you try it!

  • Annabel Smyth

    That does look good and I have a butternut squash not doing anything….. but I also have a husband who thinks he only likes red lentils! Which are very good, but give me the lovely little brown ones any time.

    If I don’t want to use a whole tin of coconut milk, I use the dried powder version from Maggi, and just stir a spoonful or so into the stock that is already in the pan.

    • I’ve never come across the dried version of coconut milk, Annabel, but I can see how it would be handy! If I don’t use the whole can of coconut milk, I usually use the rest to make chia pudding. :)

  • spinachandyoga

    Thank you for sharing the link to the book and I am happy to see how you adapted the recipe! Would love to send you a copy of the book!

  • LaCoccinelle

    This looks good. Having had a Scottish mother, my favourite comfort food is lentil soup, made with orange lentils. I like to keep vegetable soups plain with water, but add a bouquet garni and a handful of chopped parsley to serve. I too have one butternut squash left, and I’ll certainly give this soup a go.

    • I recently had a soup of orange lentils and apricots (frozen, I assume, since it was completely out of season) and loved it!

  • Madonna Ganier-Yancey

    We love lentil soups at our house, and this version looks like one I must try. I have everything I need on hand, it’s a chilly and windy day, so a hearty soup sounds perfect for the evening meal.
    I wanted to mention that I finally tried your pink pasta recipe. I love beets and am always looking for new ways to use them. The dish was delicious. Even my non-beet loving husband said so.

    • Thanks so much, I’m glad you liked that recipe! It’s a staple around here.

  • Allison Smith

    This morning I saw that organic butternut squash was on sale at the market and then I saw this post. It is currently bubbling on the stove and smells delicious! Can you clarify what type of coconut milk you used? Here in the US we have the canned variety (thick and creamy) and a milk substitute (watered down and homogenized). Thanks!

    • Thanks for pointing out the possible confusion — I used the thick, creamy kind that comes in a can. Hope you enjoy the soup, Allison!

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  • the kale project

    I’m a huge fan of Ayurvedic cooking. I did a lot of research about doshas and how to better eat for mine and felt that it really helped with mood swings, etc. I still use ayurvedic, all natural face products – I swear by them!

  • Annabel Smyth

    I made it today with home-made chicken stock; I made it rather spicy, and loved it. I don’t think I put quite enough lentils in it, though – if I make it again (and because it had home-made stock, it won’t be quite the same another time), I will add more. I also might add a carrot or two next time – I don’t know why, but the combination of carrots and lentils in a soup seems to be greater than the sum of its parts!

  • I wish I could dive into the picture. The soup looks wonderful!

    • Thank you for the compliment! Hope you try it before the end of winter.

  • Tatiana Durgas

    Ooops, I put the coconut milk in along with the broth & am just starting to cook it. Should I slow cook everything? Will the lentils still get tender?

    • I would keep the soup to a very low simmer and cook it longer, but the lentils will eventually get tender! Hope you enjoy the soup.

  • marysueh

    We made this tonight, and it is delicious! I used homemade stock meant for chicken pho – the roasted ginger & garlic seemed compatible with your recipe. The lentils were the “petite crimson” variety, which nearly disappeared into the soup even though I’d not soaked them. While the lentils added texture, they did not remain visually distinct in the broth (such as I see in your photo.) Since I’d used the pho broth as a base, the flavor profile was sorta Vietnamese-ish. I don’t think you were going for that flavor in your recipe, but thankfully it worked. The finishing chili sauce was sooo good. I’m really grateful for this recipe because it got me out of my regular go-to make-it-in-my-sleep lentil soup that I get tired of by the end of winter. And the color is so pretty! Thanks, Clotilde!

    • I’m so pleased, Mary Sue, thanks for the detailed report! I would love an outline of you chicken pho stock recipe if you get a chance.

  • JaimeLobo

    Haven’t been here in a while, so I just saw this yesterday, and made it last night. I didn’t soak the lentils ahead of time (just simmered longer, before adding other ingredients), so I needed more stock to keep it from being too thick.
    BTW, my wife declared that it was a “keeper” :o)

  • gerona48

    Made this recipe this evening and it is delicious….and easy as well! I used a combination of le puy, red, and brown lentils. The spices were perfect! Thank you, Clotilde!

  • Gemma Louise Treharne-Foose

    Mine looks much (much!) greener than the pic! But then I didn’t measure my lentils so they must have tinged everything green. I also chucked in some ground cauliflower that I had leftover from cauliflower fried rice yesterday. It doesn’t look appetising at the moment, but it tastes fine. I wish I’d added more colour to it, perhaps some peppers or carrots. It feels very ‘vegany’ to me, what with the lentil overload! Nice to have a day off meat tho!

    • Certainly, with this kind of flexible recipe, the color will depend a lot on what you put in. Glad your own mix turned out to your liking!

  • Ted

    In case I never thanked you when I first found this recipe, THANK YOU … it is my favorite and a most delicious, satisfying soup. I had passed it to friends, but RUDELY forgot where I found it to be able to give you credit…that will change!!! Gracias, merci, dankie!

    • So good to hear, Ted, thank you! You’re making me want to start a new batch right this minute. :)

  • Shivangni

    I was quite intrigued by “ayurved – meidcinal for us Indians” when i read the tweet, thought of correcting you, but then I realised entire Indian cuisine is actually ayurvedic and your label fits very well. Turmeric, cumin, ginger, fennel all form part of our home remedies whenever need arises apart from being used very regularly in our cooking. We do have an almost similar “dal’ recipe from Jammu made from skinned chana dal and we add pumkin / similar vegetables seasoned with fennel seeds. This is espcially cooked as light meal for lunch along with 2-3 other dishes on weddings when traditional bath is given to bride / groom before the heavy wedding feast for dinner. This has kindled a lot of memories . Thanks

  • It’s really delicious, I like to very much, Thank you very much for sharing your topic #Clotilde Dusoulier

  • Michelle McMillen

    I made this for supper tonight, and it is WONDERFUL! My favorite lentil stew to date!

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