Here in the Southern California desert, we don’t get nearly enough rain (which is why it’s called a ‘desert’!) and when we do, we often call it “California’s Liquid Sunshine”. The Mid-West and East and actually, pretty much of the whole country except Southern California has had a particularly awful winter. And NO, I’m not inviting them all to move here … but I was thinking that some Liquid Sunshine might help brighten their day as well as warm them up!
It’s easy to make and can be made with either butternut squash – a winter squash – or canned pumpkin (which many grocery stores are now carrying all year long). It’s filling and can be more or less sweet to match your taste buds.
So have some Liquid Sunshine and you won’t even need sunscreen!
Liquid Sunshine Soup
- 1 butternut squash (about 2 lbs) or 1 can pumpkin puree (not pie filling)
- 2 small onions
- Approx. 1-1/2 c vegetable (or chicken) broth
- 1 c chopped mushrooms
- 1 c red lentils
- 1 c orange juice (fresh is best)
- 1/2 tsp. cumin
- 1/2 tsp. coriander
- 1 tsp. cinnamon
- 3/4 tsp. powdered ginger
- 1/2 tsp. mustard powder
- Pinch cayenne pepper or to taste
- Salt to taste
- Juice of 1 lemon, optional
- 2 tsp. sugar, optional
If using the squash, preheat the oven to 350. Cut the squash in half lengthwise and remove the seeds and strings and discard. Place the squash, cut side down and poke several fork or knife holes in each half to let steam escape. Roast for about 40 minutes or until soft.
Chop onions and caramelize in soup pot. Add broth as needed to keep them from burning. When onions are caramelized, add mushrooms and cook until their liquid is released and they cook down. Rinse lentils (for a quicker soup, after rinsing, soak them in the broth.)
Scoop the squash flesh away from the skin and puree with orange juice. (If using pumpkin, stir orange juice into pumpkin puree until smooth. Add puree mixture, and all spices (cumin, coriander, cinnamon, ginger, mustard, cayenne and salt) and blend, Add lentils and broth. Simmer gently until lentils are cooked. They should be tender but not mushy. Taste and if too sweet, add some of the lemon juice until you like the taste (a little at a time – you probably won’t need the whole lemon). If it isn’t sweet enough, add a little sugar, a little at a time until it gets as sweet as you want it. (Often the squash needs the lemon and the pumpkin needs the sugar – but let your own taste buds guide you to what you like best.)
Serves 4 as a main course or 6 as an appetizer course