A warming, tomato based lentil rice soup for some more cozy dinners. This is a really great autumn soup, with butternut squash, fresh spinach, and hearty spices. Although my lone butternut cracked from too much early October rain, they are readily available.
This is adapted from my carrot, red lentil, and spinach soup, but with the rice cooked directly into the soup. It makes for a longer cooking time but the result is thicker, almost stew, and very nice in cold weather.
It’s a difficult time for many of us, with staying home more and even less social interaction exacerbating clinical and seasonal depression. My goal this autumn and winter is to share as many easy, one-pot or one-tray recipes that make enough more multiple meals. I hope recipes like this will be as helpful to you as they are to me!
Scroll to the bottom of the post or click “skip to recipe” above to see the recipe card with full ingredient measurements and instructions.
- Olive oil
- Butternut squash
- Sea salt
- Black pepper
- Sweet paprika
- Cayenne pepper
- Apple cider vinegar
- Diced tomatoes (canned)
- Vegetable broth
- Red lentils (see substitutions)
- Brown rice (see tips)
- Spinach or other greens (see substitutions)
Tips and Notes
If you soak the rice ahead of time, overnight if possible, it’ll reduce the cooking time for the soup significantly. I highly recommend doing this if you have the time and have planned ahead.
Without soaking the rice, the lentils and squash break down quite significantly and make a semi-stew as their cooking times are shorter than dry brown rice. It just depends on the kind of texture you prefer – if you want a soup with individual bits of everything, soak the rice. If you want something a little more like a stew, then cook the rice from dry in the soup.
To shorten the cooking time you can also use a different variety of rice that doesn’t need as long to cook.
This is a special soup, because you can use any kind of lentil in it! Red lentils will make it slightly thicker and more stew-like, and brown, green, or black lentils will retain more texture and not break down as much during cooking. Use whatever variety you have on hand (just not cooked/canned).
Use spinach, chard, kale, or rucola (arugula). My spinach is still going strong for the time being but we’ll be shifting to kale and chard in the garden very soon. You can use frozen greens, too – just cook them with the soup for the last couple of minutes instead of stirring in at the end.
You can use water instead of broth if you like, or if you don’t have veggie broth. This is completely fine as long as you season (salt) enough.
More Seasonal Soups and Stews
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Rice, Lentil, and Butternut Squash Soup
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 medium yellow onion diced (~100 grams)
- 500 grams 18 oz. or one small butternut squash, cut into 3cm (1 in.) pieces
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 1 teaspoon sea salt to taste
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- ½ teaspoon sweet paprika
- ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper to taste
- 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
- 400 grams 14 oz. canned diced tomatoes
- 1.5 litres 6 cups vegetable stock
- 150 grams 1 cup lentils*
- 100 grams 1/2 cup brown rice**
- 70 grams 3 cups spinach or other greens
- In a large pot, heat the oil over medium. Add the onion and sauté for a couple of minutes, or until softened and fragrant.
- Add the butternut squash and cook for another five minutes, stirring occasionally, to soften slightly.
- Stir in the garlic and cook for another minute. Add the cumin, salt, pepper, paprika, and cayenne pepper, and cook for about 30 seconds.
- Pour in the apple cider vinegar and stir to lift any spices that may be sticking to the pot. Add the tomatoes and vegetable stock.
- Increase the heat to high and bring the soup to a rolling boil. Add the lentils and rice, reduce the heat to medium-low, then simmer, covered, for 30-45 minutes, or until the rice is cooked.
- Remove from the heat and stir in the spinach. Taste for seasoning and add more salt if needed. Serve hot and keep leftovers in the refrigerator for up to three days. This soup freezes well.
This post was originally published in March 2018. It has been updated with some minor tweaks to the recipe, new photos, and an updated text, as of November 2020.