Creamy Butternut, Cauliflower, and Lentil Soup

This is an easy budget soup, making four main-meal-sized portions. Don’t let the inclusion of the notoriously difficult to peel squash put you off; there are two options below to make your job much, much easier. As always, use this recipe as a roadmap: try it with the addition of coconut milk and either Thai or Indian spices; add a can of tomato sauce and some Italian herbs. A good base soup can be varied in so many different ways.


1 red onion, medium dice
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 butternut squash
200g split red lentils
1 small cauliflower, in florets (approx. 500g)
1.5 litres vegetable stock
Pinch chilli flakes
1 tbsp fresh sage leaves, minced (or 1 tsp, dried, rubbed between fingers)
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 heaped tbsp yellow miso

1. Carefully make several slits in skin of the squash with a small sharp knife, and microwave for about 3-5 minutes to loosen the peel from the flesh slightly. Alternatively, slit and then boil the squash whole in a large stock pot for about 5 minutes, until softened. Wait until it’s cool enough to handle, and then peel, deseed, and chop into bite-sized dice.
2. In a stock pot over a very low heat, sweat the onion and garlic, stirring frequently until softened, about 5 minutes. Don’t allow them to take on any colour; if they start to stick, the heat is too high. Lower it, and add a little broth to loosen.
3. Add the cauliflower, stock, butternut squash, chilli flakes, and sage leaves. Bring to a boil, lower the heat, cover, and simmer for 15-20 minutes until the vegetables are tender.
4. While the soup is cooking, rinse and drain the lentils, picking them over to ensure there are no small stones or pieces of grit among them. Add them to a saucepan with about 400g water, bring to the boil, reduce heat, and simmer for 5-10 minutes, or until softened. Drain and rinse.
5. Add the lentils back to the pot with the butternut squash (cooking them separately ensures that the lentils don’t add any foam to your soup), and mix well to combine. Spoon between a third and half of the soup into a blender jug with the miso paste and blend until creamy. Alternatively, remove the same quantity of soup and use an immersion blender to blend it to smooth.
6. Stir the blended soup back to the pot, warm, and serve in warmed bowls with some parsley, additional chilli flakes, and nutritional yeast if desired.

Pasta and lentil soup with kale and cabbage

A warm and comforting soup based on pasta e lenticchie, which is often made with just ditalini, but broken spaghetti or capellini, or pasta mista are also common. This recipe uses ditalini, but adds farfallini and fideo for variety. This is ‘soupier’ than the traditional dish and makes a small bowl for 4 or a larger bowl for 2. Double the pasta for something more traditional and filling or serve with fresh baked bread sticks as shown here.


For the pasta
6T semolina flour
1t plant-only egg replacer
2-3T lukewarm water

For the lentils
1 cup water, and 2T water, separated
1/2 cup brown lentils (black, green or dupuy will also work)
1 ‘sprig’ dried kombu, about 1″
2 scallions, minced, 3″ – 4″ green reserved for garnish
1/4t coarse sea salt
1T garlic
1/2t dried basil, rubbed
1/4t dried oregano, rubbed
1/4t dried thyme, rubbed
A pinch dried rosemary, rubbed
A pinch dried marjoram, rubbed
A pinch dried red chilis and/or 1/4t black pepper, freshly cracked
1T lemon juice
2 cups vegetable stock
2 cups tomato passata (or puree)
1 cup shredded green cabbage
1 cup green curly kale, coarsely chopped
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
2T fresh basil, chopped finely or chiffonade
Coarse sea salt and black pepper to taste

Optional: Add a teaspoon coconut sugar (or similar) if you like with the other herbs for a little more balanced flavour. Spinach would be more traditional than cabbage and kale, but chard would also make a nice alternative. Saute the scallions, et al., in a little cooking oil instead of water, or finish the dish with a little drizzled olive oil for a richer taste and mouthfeel. Replace the lentils with chickpeas or white beans.


Start the lentils, then make the pasta.

In a large frying pan with a lid, bring 1 cup water to a light simmer. Add the lentils and kombu. Cover, simmer for 30 minutes until they are fully cooked but still al dente.

While the lentils simmer, combine the dry ingredients for the pasta, add the water and knead until you have a smooth, elastic dough. If you knead for 2 – 3 minutes and the dough is still a bit dry, add more water, 1 teaspoon at a time, but give it a few minutes. When smooth, cover with a warm wet tea towel and let rest about 15 minutes.

When the dough has rested, prepare and cut the pasta shapes you’d like. See the notes below on how to make the particular shapes. Your lentils should be about ready by the time you are finished with the pasta. Drain, reserving the kombu. Set the lentils and kombu aside.

Warm the pan on medium heat. Add the 2T water, scallion, garlic and herbs. Stir fry for about 2-3 minutes. Add the cabbage and stir fry for another 3 – 5 minutes. Add the lemon and deglaze the pan. Add the stock and 1 cup passata. Return the lentils to the pan.

Return the pan to a light simmer, reduce heat to medium low and simmer 10 minutes. Remove the kombu. Add the kale and stir to combine. Return the pan to a light boil.

Add the farfallini and ditalini and simmer 3 – 4 minutes. Wait a minute or two before adding the fideo. Add the remaining passata and return the pan to a simmer. Simmer another 5 minutes or so until the pasta is done. Remove from heat.

Add the nutritional yeast and stir to combine. Season to taste. To plate, ladle out and garnish with scallion green sliced on an angle, basil, and some additional nutritional yeast if you like and serve.

Making the pasta
Any or all of these shapes will go well in this dish. I also use ricciolini from time to time. Toast or fry the fideo if you like. You can also use boxed pasta, but you may want to parboil separately depending on what you use.

For farfallini, roll out the a large rectangle about 1/8″ thick. Cut 3/4″ x 1/3″ rectangles (smaller if you can). The ends of farfallini are often rounded, but rectangles will be much easier. Working quickly, pinch each strip firmly in the middle with the edges of your thumbs. If you want to make them even smaller, you can always try a pair of tweezers. Let dry on the board.

For ditalini, you’ll either require a dowel or something similar (something long, round and needle-like, but even in diameter). Roll the dough out to about 1/6″ and cut into 4″ x 1/2″ strips. Wrap the dough width-wise around the dowel and pinch closed (so that you have a long, 4″ tube).

Roll gently on the cutting board to create long, even tubes, about 1/3″ in diameter. Slide off the dowel and repeat. If your dowel/dowel replacement is long enough, do longer pieces of dough. Let each dry on the board.

For fideo, some people simply use broken spaghetti, although traditionally, fideo is actually a Spanish noodle and has a slight curve. If you have a lot of experience with chiffonade or julienne, this won’t be a difficult shape.

Roll the dough into a rectangle about 1/8″ thick (thinner if you can). Cut into long rectangular strips about 1 1/2″ high by several inches long. Carefully and precisely cut 1/8″ strips. Roll each strip gently with a few fingers to round it. Either curve each strip a little and let dry on the board, or gently arrange on a curved glass and let dry there.

When ready, add to the soup as directed