This thick, creamy, rustic soup makes a perfect meal with good bread and a salad. It’s also quick to make; it takes 35-40 minutes from start to finish, especially if using pre-cut squash. Fennel... seeds add flavor and aid digestion, and the squash provides vitamins A, C, and E. The red lentils thicken the soup and give it a pretty, golden color. The lentils’ benefits are more than just cosmetic; they also add folate and minerals such as magnesium and iron.
Heat the olive oil in a wide, heavy-bottomed soup pot over a medium-high flame until it starts to ripple. Add the fennel seeds and cook, stirring until they start to darken, about 30 seconds. Do not let them burn!
Add the onion and sauté for a minute, then turn the heat down to medium and sweat for about 5 minutes. Add the squash, sprinkle with a good pinch of sea salt and sweat partially covered, stirring occasionally, for another 5-10 minutes or until the squash starts to soften.
Turn the heat up to medium-high. Add the lentils and stir to mix well. Then, add the stock or water and bring to a boil. Cover and turn the heat to medium-low. Simmer until the lentils are soft and the squash mashes easily against the side of the pan, about 25 minutes. Adjust the seasoning. Turn off the heat, and let the soup sit covered for 5-10 minutes.
Mash the squash up against the sides of the pan with a wooden spoon. If you like a smoother soup, blend with an immersion blender. Garnish with chopped cilantro or parsley, black pepper and drizzle a little olive oil over the top. Serve.
If having oral problems such as cankers or post radiation dryness, this sweet delicious soup can be made even smoother by whizzing a couple of cupfuls in a blender. Try swirling in some whole milk Greek yogurt for extra smoothness. And let the soup cool somewhat before eating.