Happy new year! I hope you all had a great one. Thanks for your patience with my very sporadic posting lately - I had a day of travelling, a day of partying, a day of recovering, and suddenly without me even realising, it's the third of January (2014, not 2013 as I keep writing on things and almost certainly will for the next few weeks, at least).
The big news over in the Amuse Your Bouche camp is that a few friends and I are going vegan for the whole month of January (which you will probably know already if you follow me over on Facebook, hint hint)! None of us have any intentions of being vegan permanently, but we like a personal challenge, and I'm looking forward to needing to use my head a bit to think of interesting vegan dinner ideas! So for the next month, I will only be posting vegan recipes here on the blog. I know a few of you might turn your noses up a little at veganism but I promise they'll all be great!
I'm already vegetarian, so you might think that making the final step to veganism shouldn't be too difficult for me, but considering the amount of cheese I usually eat, I think I might find it tricky after a while. So far, so good, though! I'm hoping that this challenge might also help a little with January's usual 'healthy eating' resolutions, since I can't smother everything I cook in cheese (sob!).
This butternut squash soup has definitely been my favourite vegan creation so far. It's thick and creamy, with coconut milk and smoked paprika to lend a gorgeous sweet smokiness. I also added some red lentils - they give a different texture and some added protein, plus they help to keep you full for longer. They worked really well in this soup.
I cooked my red lentils separately from the soup, and only added them once I'd blended the soup to be nice and smooth, but that was only because I thought it would look pretty to serve the chunky lentils in the smooth soup. If you'd prefer to cook it all together and blend the whole thing, I'm sure that would be great too - plus it'll save you washing up an extra pan! To be honest, laziness usually prevails in my kitchen, so that's probably what I'll do next time.
I can't get over how pretty this soup is! Sorry for the slight abundance of photos - I sort of couldn't stop snapping. I think I automatically enjoy something more if it looks good (and it doesn't hurt that it tastes amazing too), so I quite happily slurped up a nice big bowlful of this soup for my lunch. Another successful vegan meal down, 85 more to go! Feel free to share any great vegan recipes with me that you think I should have a go at this month!
Smoky coconut and butternut squash soup
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- 2 tablespoon oil
- 1 onion, sliced or diced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 400 g butternut squash flesh, diced (around half a medium squash)
- ½ teaspoon smoked paprika
- 500 ml vegetable stock
- Black pepper
- 100 g red lentils
- 150 ml coconut milk
- 1 tablespoon fresh coriander, chopped, to serve (optional)
- Heat the oil in a large saucepan, and cook the onion, garlic and squash over a medium heat until the onion is soft, around 5 minutes. Add the paprika, and cook for one more minute, then add the vegetable stock. Season well with black pepper (you might need a little salt too if you used low sodium stock), and bring to a simmer. Cook until the squash is soft, around 15 minutes.
- While the soup is simmering, boil the lentils in a separate pan until they are soft – again, around 15 minutes. Drain and set aside.
- When the butternut squash is soft, blend the soup with an immersion blender until smooth. Add the coconut milk, and once the soup is piping hot, serve the lentils with the soup poured over the top. Top with chopped coriander if desired.
Nutritional information is approximate, and will depend on your exact ingredients. Please calculate your own nutritional values if you require accuracy for health reasons.