Recipe: Warming spicy squash and lentil soup

We recently harvested our Crown Prince squash. I really enjoyed growing the squashes and pumpkins vertically and I was pleasantly surprised by how well they climbed but I do wonder if the fact that they were growing up rather than out was responsible for their poor crop. That or lack of pollination perhaps? Because I did have multiple fruits start to swell and then keel over and fall off the vine. Either way, from three massive Crown Prince vines that dominated one of my four raised beds, I got just one fruit. It was a beauty but scarcity made me spend a few days wondering what to do with it. In the end I went for a simple hearty soup. I always batch cook soup and freeze portions for later and this one was a classic, like autumn decanted into a cup. Enjoy!

Crown prince squash: look at that bright flesh!

– One squash (I used crown prince), about one kilo in weight
– One cooking (strong) onion
– One head of garlic (I like a strong taste but do use a couple of cloves if you prefer it to be milder)
– A thumb-sized chunk of fresh ginger root
– Half a red chilli
– Two handfuls of red lentils
– A heated litre of stock (I tend to use vegetable or chicken)

1. Finely chop the onion and sweat on a gentle heat for five minutes in some oil (I prefer rapeseed)
2. Whilst the onion is cooking (until it is translucent, but don’t let it brown), finely slice and chop the ginger root, half chilli and crush and chop the garlic. Rinse the red lentils thoroughly in a sieve until the water runs clear.
5. Add the garlic, chilli, ginger and lentils to the pan, stir thoroughly and continue to sauté gently on a low heat for another five minutes, stirring every minute or so.  
5. Chop the squash into small cubes a couple of centimetres square. Add to the pan and sauté for a further five minutes. 
6. Add the hot stock, bring to the boil and then turn down to a simmer. Season to taste and allow to simmer uncovered for 25-30 minutes (until the lentils are soft). Remove from heat, whizz in a food processor and enjoy!

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We farm a three acre smallholding in Hampshire, England, having fled London in pursuit of the good life for our little family. We mess about with an assorted menagerie and try to be as self-sufficient as possible in meat and fruit and vegetables whilst enjoying our plot and an outdoors lifestyle with our son. I am the luckiest person that I know.

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