One advantage to living in Paris is that it’s almost impossible to take a bad photograph. Even a blurry picture of a rain-soaked shop front snapped just when a customer is struggling to open her umbrella evokes that je ne sais quoi about Paris. I still have a lot to learn, especially about indoor photography, but if there’s one lesson above all that I’ve learned, it’s that it’s impossible to make lentil soup pretty.
This winter I’ve eaten more homemade vegetable soup than I did in the last two decades. It’s cheap, fast and nutritious. And it’s a good way to counterbalance all those luxury brownies and cranberry, pecan and white chocolate cookies I’ve been eating.
This butternut squash and lentil soup is a riff on the lentil chestnut soup from www.justhungry.com. That recipe calls for stock cubes, which I rarely use, but water worked fine. Just make sure to add enough salt, pepper and herbs. I omitted the honey or molasses from the original recipe too, as I felt that the onions and squash lent enough sweetness. Ever since I made a Moroccan sweet potato salad with olives and cayenne pepper, I've loved the combination of hot pepper with sweet starchy vegetables, so I added a pinch of cayenne. Also, I don't have a blender, so wasn't able to purée the soup. It wasn’t pretty, but tasted great, especially with a dollop of crème fraiche on top.