Red Lentil Soup with Butternut Squash

Add butternut squash to basic red lentil soup, and enjoy the flavor sensation! Simple and easy to make, this delicate orange-colored soup will keep people guessing!

Add butternut squash to basic red lentil soup, and enjoy the flavor sensation! Simple and easy to make, this delicate orange-colored soup will keep people guessing!

I did not develop this recipe for the blog. Nor have I made it for years and years… Instead, I threw a meal together with available ingredients – and it was so good I had to try to remember what I had done! (It doesn’t usually work that way – really…  Sometimes the improvisation is good enough that I think “That just needs a little tinkering and it will be good enough…” and I’m pleased with that.)

Basically, I had red lentils, and the weather was cold, so I made what I expected to be a perfectly nice, ordinary soup. But then I remembered I had this squash sitting around that I really needed to use… decided that it would work in the soup – and then sat back and was amazed by the rich, sweet flavor! Gave some to my father in law for his lunch, and he liked it, too, and I decided I had a winner.

Bowl of Red Lentil Soup with Butternut Squash

Now – a note about process pictures (or the lack thereof…) I am still trying to work out how to take process pictures in this house. I get almost no sunlight at the stove (hadn’t fully realized how much I relied on that in New York!) and the room lights also don’t really light the stove. I do have a range hood with lights – and clearly that’s the reason the architect didn’t mind placing things so that I block light when I stand at the stove – but it’s too bright and causes hot spots, bouncing off the black glass stovetop.  And then, of course, I am using stainless steel pots…

I’m sure I will figure this out. (I have learned so much about photography – and still have so much more…) Meanwhile, I’ll give you pictures (even if they’re not good) when there is a step that may not be clear. But this is a long way to say that you don’ t need to see bad pictures with lots of light bounce, or dim fuzzy ones you can’t see, of “Put everything in the pot and bring to a boil.” I’m sure you can all follow that one!


Chop an onion, and put a soup pot over heat. Heat up some oil in the pot, add the onion, and stir to saute. When the onion softens, add two teaspoons of smoked paprika and stir it in. Pick over and rinse a pound of red lentils, and add them to the pot, stirring to mix well with the onion and paprika.

Now – I use a quart of fairly concentrated homemade chicken broth, because I tend to have that around right now, and two more quarts of water. You can use any combination of light broth and water that works for you – I don’t think that beef or a heavily mushroom based broth would be ideal, but chicken or a light vegetable broth is good. And you can just use water – I often do for red lentil soup, and once you add the squash there is enough flavor going on here…  At this point, you may or may not need to add salt, depending on your liquid. I added a teaspoon, as my homemade broth was barely salted and I added quite a bit of water – if you use a package or two of commercial broth you may not need as much (or any.)

Butternut squash and jar of red lentils.

So indeed, while that comes to a boil, prepare the squash. (OK, that picture I just forgot – Rich peeled and cut the squash for me.) I have been fascinated here to find butternut at the farmer’s market – that Autumn vegetable is long gone by now in New York – and by the cute little squash they have… about a pound and a half a piece, with a very small seed cavity. The amount of squash can be a bit flexible here. I’ll use a whole one of these, peeled and with seeds and pulp removed. If I had one of the bigger ones I was used to, I’d probably use the long solid part, and keep the hollow end to bake. (And you know – if all I had was a can of pumpkin, I suspect that would basically work… Go ahead and try it!) Add the peeled and cut squash to the soup pot, and bring everything to a boil.

Simmer about half an hour, then check to see if it is done. The lentils should be falling apart, and the squash tender. Now, if you can, allow the soup to cool a while before pureeing with an immersion blender – just to avoid any risk of splashing yourself with hot soup… (And if you have to use a traditional jar blender you must let it cool – blending hot liquid can cause bad accidents.)  Puree until smooth. At this point, taste for seasoning – you may want a little more salt, or a little more paprika.

Pot or red lentil soup, pureed, on stovetop.

And serve it! Don likes to have a pureed soup in a mug with lunch, and this was just right for that – which also means it’s particularly good in a thermos for a carried lunch. Good in a bowl too, though…  It would be a great first course for a dinner that needs a little oomph, but has enough bean and vegetable to be the bulk of a real meal.

Add butternut squash to basic red lentil soup, and enjoy the flavor sensation! Simple and easy to make, this delicate orange-colored soup will keep people guessing!

Bowl of Red Lentil Soup with Butternut Squash

Red Lentil Soup with Butternut Squash

Anne Murphy
Add butternut squash to basic red lentil soup, and enjoy the flavor sensation! Simple and easy to make, this delicate orange-colored soup will keep people guessing!
5 from 8 votes
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 35 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes
Course Soup
Cuisine American, Gluten Free
Servings 4 quarts


  • oil for pan
  • 1 onion chopped
  • 2 t smoked paprika
  • 1 lb red lentils
  • 3 qt liquid - broth and water combined as desired
  • salt to taste as needed
  • 1 1/2 lb butternut squash peeled and cut in chunks


  • Heat oil in soup pot, and lightly saute. When softened, add paprika. Add rinsed red lentils.
  • Add three quarts of a combination of light broth (chicken or vegetable) and water, in whatever proportion works for you. Add salt if liquid not salted.
  • Add peeled and cut up squash. Bring to a boil, simmer half an hour or until lentils fall apart and squash is tender.
  • Use an immersion blender to puree soup. Taste and adjust salt and paprika if needed.
  • Serve hot.
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

12 thoughts on “Red Lentil Soup with Butternut Squash”

  • 5 stars
    I think you just re-discovered Sambar (sambhar?) 🙂 Looks yummy. Will definitely use butternut squash in my next batch, seems like the ideal squash to use and the local Whole foods sometimes has a fresh batch already chopped. I’m such a wimp when it comes to chopping!

  • This soup sounds so delicious and healthy. Isn’t it funny how such a great recipe can be created just based on what you happened to have on hand?! I’ve done that numerous times.

  • 5 stars
    How fun pairing red lentils with butternut squash! It looks so vibrant and delicious! I too can’t take process shots in my kitchen, I have to drag everything to another room just to get to my artificial lights, so I feel your pain! Next time I’m out, I’m getting some red lentils so I can try your delicious recipe!

  • Oh I love this! But isn’t it weird that it’s still cold in April? If this continues I may be making your soup! If not, I’ll certainly be trying this in the fall.

  • 5 stars
    LOVE lentil soup! Also really loving that this one is loaded with butternut squash. Definitely going to have to make this for dinner this week!

  • 5 stars
    This soup sounds so healthy. I’m saving this as I’m always on the lookout for beautiful recipes that are healthy too. The color in this soup is so pretty. Thanks for this!

  • 5 stars
    This soup is such a genius idea. I love lentils and mildly sweet flavors of butternut squash. Such a simple recipe but the smoked paprika brings out the flavor!

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