Curried Squash and Red Lentil Soup With Quinoa

Curry Squash Lentil Soup

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Brrr, can someone turn up the heat please? I’m in Vegas and it has been chilly and rainy for the last few days – I feel very much like I am back home in rainy Vancouver, BC!

Soup is on my mind more lately and since there seems to be abundance of squash at the supermarkets – I asked myself “why not make a soup with it?”

I found this recipe online (link below) but I adjusted it a tad to my liking.

The Verdict of Curried Squash and Red Lentil Soup With Quinoa

This soup’s broth turned out pretty tasty with just enough curry.  The original recipe called for only water in the base – I think adding in vegetable stock in place of the water made the broth much nicer! I liked how the cilantro oil floated on the top and gave a nice herbal flavour. The quinoa was hearty and filling and a great source of protein. If I was to make this soup again in the future (and I think I may), I would add a little more celery. I think the soup had a little more room for some chunky vegetables like celery and carrot if you like. I also liked the fact that I substituted coconut oil for olive oil – it added a little bit of a Thai flair to the curry broth. My soup tester fella really liked the souo as well and only commented that it needed a little more ginger in the next batch!

I found it interesting that the red lentils sort of dissolved into the soup. I am sure they added to the tasty broth even though I could not distinguish them in my spoonful of goodness!

We ate the soup two days in a row and on the second day, we added some torn up kale – it worked very well in the soup!  I never felt healthier after soup as I did with this one!

Curried Squash and Red Lentil Soup  Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 1 1/2 pound butternut squash, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 large onion, chopped small
  • 2 carrot, chopped small
  • 2 celery rib, chopped small
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tablespoons minced peeled ginger
  • 1 tablespoon curry powder
  • 1 cup red lentils
  • 1 quart water
  • 1 quart (32 oz) vegetable stock
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 cup quinoa

For cilantro oil:

  • 1/2 cup chopped cilantro
  • 3 tablespoon coconut oil
  • salt
I like to chop the vegetables really nice and small so it presents well in the soup!

 

Curried Squash and Red Lentil Soup Instructions:

  • Heat coconut oil in a large heavy pot,  on medium saute squash, onion, carrot, celery, garlic, ginger, and 1 teaspoon salt, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are softened and beginning to brown, 10-15 minutes.
  • Stir in curry powder and 1/4 teaspoon pepper and cook, stirring frequently, 2 minutes.
  • Add lentils, broth and water and simmer, covered, until lentils are tender, 25 to 35 minutes. Stir in lemon juice into soup and season with salt and pepper in the soup.
  • In a separate pot while soup is simmering, boil 1 cup of quinoa with 2 cups of water, simmer until fluffy.
  • Ladle soup into bowls, add in a scoop of quinoa and drizzle cilantro oil.
  • Enjoy!

Make cilantro oil: 
Purée cilantro, oil, and 1/2 teaspoon salt in a blender.

Serve soup drizzled with cilantro oil.

Original recipe from here: http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Curried-Squash-and-Red-Lentil-Soup-351416#ixzz2l7gwR653

What I Changed From Original Recipe:

  • Replaced butter and vegetable oil with cocnut oil for soup base and cilantro oil.
  • Changed basmati rice to quinoa as the accompaniment.
  • Replaced half the water with broth – I like always using a vegetable broth for more depth.
  • Added 1 more carrot and celery rib.
  • Added salt to cilantro oil. It tasted too bland without the salt. Salt lifts the flavours very much so!

What I’d Do Next Time to Make it Even Better:

  • Add one more celery rib.
  • Add one more teaspoon of minced ginger.

Soup Mistress Rating for Curried Squash and Red Lentil Soup:

Healthy (+ slimming + low sodium): (5/5
Presentation: (3.5/5) 

Taste: (4.25/5) 

White Spot Pumpkin Soup and Rock Stars – A Soup Review

Pumkin Soup White Spot

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Pumpkin Soup at White Spot

This afternoon, I was shopping for some running shoes in Burnaby and I decided to go to White Spot for lunch on Market Crossing (just off of Marine Drive).

I asked my server (a very friendly gal named Anita) what was the special soup and she said that it was Pumpkin Soup. At first, I was going to pass on it and go for the Chowder that is offered on the menu, but my server was so passionate and said that the pumpkin soup was very VERY good. She left and came back right away with a taster for me. Wow, that was great service – I never even asked for it! Loved that special attention and ability to try before making a commitment.

And yes, she was right, the Pumpkin Soup was yummy. Don’t get me wrong, but I am a huge fan of pumpkin soup, but by December I’m usually very tired of it because I have made many batches in the fall.

But this one was different…

What’s the verdict of White Spots Pumpkin Soup? It was way better than the average pumpkin pureed soup. It was like creamy velvet and it had some nice texture with finely grated vegetables. I think it was carrots, zucchini and possibly squash that was grated in the soup after it was pureed. Also the soup had a good balance of acidity. I think I am going to try to recreate this soup at home.

White Spot Rock Stars:
I gave Anita (my server) feedback that I really liked the soup and mentioned that I was curious to know what the ingredients were. She totally went out of her way to ask her Kitchen Manager. And shortly after, Calvin Canlas came to the table to talk to me about the soup – he was a true evangelist for White Spots menu. His eyes really lighted up when we talked about soups and he shared his recent liking of fried leeks as a garnish on top of soups – I concurred, as it is something I want to try in one of my soups as well. He also promised to email me the exact ingredients and also printed off a similar pumpkin soup recipe that he recommended himself (I may have to try in future as well). Both, Anita and Calvin are Rock Stars – White Spot should be so proud to have employees like them. Thumbs up to White Spot on Market Crossing!

Main soup kitchen at White Spot:
Since White Spot is a chain restaurant (40+ restaurants in lower mainland), they make the soups in their main kitchen to keep quality control and most likely cost control. I guessed that they would have some additional ingredients to help to emulsify and/or stabilize the soup versus what you use if you were to make at home. I think that is fair enough – and I don’t care because it does taste really good.

The only thing I would recommend to White Spot is to add some kind of garnish on the top the soup (be it fresh herbs or a sprig, something crunchy or even some finely grated raw carrot).

Bye bye pumpkin and hello roasted tomato: Calvin told me that White Spot should be serving up their popular Old Fashion Roasted Tomato Soup in near future to replace it’s Pumpkin soup. Something that I will have to come back and try for sure.

White Spots Pumpkin Soup ingredients: Calvin promptly emailed me the ingredients later in the afternoon and here they are:

Water, pumpkin puree, heavy cream, carrots, onions, half and half (milk and cream), enriched flour, (wheat flour, niacin, reduced iron thiamine mononitrate, roboflavin, folic acid, ascorbic acid, enzyme) butter(cream milk), natural flavour, yellow squash, zucchini, celery, tomato sauce, (tomato puree, salt, citric acid), onion powder, chicken meat and chicken juices, modified cornstarch, yeast extract. ginger puree, chives, soy and corn protein, spices, sugar, red pepper sauce, potato flavourings, potato flour, black and white pepper, carrot powder, turmeric.  Milk, soybeans and wheat.

If I was to try to recreate this soup at home: I think I am going to try to recreate this at home. I especially liked it with the finely grated vegetables. I would probably do the following:

  •  use alternate soup thickeners such as soy flour or Xanthum Gum instead of the wheat flour so that it is gluten-free soup. Who knows though, I may not even use a thickener or just use more potato.
  •  omit onion and carrot powder and just rely on the fresh onion and carrots.
  • use low sodium vegetable stock instead of chicken stock.
  • add some lemon juice and lemon rind at the end of the cooking process.
  • as for the process (roughly). I would first saute the onions, chopped pumpkin, carrots, zucchini, potato and squash, add the stock, spices, herbs, simmer for 20 minutes, puree the soup, add in the creams/thickeners with some finely shredded carrots and zucchini, simmer for 5 minutes to soften the shredded vegetables a tad, add lemon juice and rind.
  • definitely serve the soup with some fresh herbs or some sort of garnish on top. I think this is the only thing White Spot should add to their Pumpkin soups just before serving!
  • experiment with some fresh herbs like parsley, oregano – I think the soup had an additional green herb, but It may have been the chives…I may be wrong though.

Oh BTW – I had White Spots Oven Baked Vegetable Sandwich with my soup and it complimented it very well.

Soup Mistress Rating for White Spots Pumpkin Soup:

Healthy (+ slimming + low sodium): (3.5/5)
Presentation: (4/5) 
Taste: (4.5/5) 

Have you discovered any yummy soups at White Spot? Feel free to share below in comments.