Curried Red Lentil and Butternut Squash Soup with Kale and Toasted Chickpeas

by Gena on February 5, 2014

curried red lentil and butternut squash soup header

I’m back! Thanks for bearing with my absence, folks. I needed some time to get over the flu and give myself a bit of TLC. As you might imagine, I’ve been doing only scant cooking in the last week or so, but as soon as the worst of it was over, I did set about making a couple of hearty, healing soups. This curried red lentil and butternut squash soup with kale and toasted chickpeas was probably my favorite of the bunch. It’s quintessential vegan comfort food: warming, gently spiced, full of nutrition, and easy to prepare.

The toasted chickpeas were a last minute addition to the recipe. I tend to go through phases with different toppings: homemade gomasio, avocado slices, nutritional yeast, toasted walnuts, whatever. Toasted chickpeas are my current favorite. They are so versatile, so crunchy, so rich in protein and essential minerals. I shared my standard recipe in this post, but you can and should feel free to adjust spices and seasonings to suit your fancy. Once those are prepared, you can turn your attention to the soup, which comes together in no time.

curried red lentil butternut squash side

Curried Red Lentil and Butternut Squash Soup with Kale and Toasted Chickpeas

Serving Size: 4-6


  • 1 cup red lentils (dry)
  • 1 tablespoon olive or coconut oil
  • 1 cup white or yellow onion, diced
  • 1 tablespoon fresh ginger, minced
  • 2 teaspoons mild curry powder
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 2 pounds butternut squash, peeled and cut
  • 5 cups vegetable broth (low sodium if possible)
  • 4 cups kale, washed, dried, and chopped
  • Sea salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 cup toasted chickpeas (recipe here)


  1. 1. If you wish to, soak the lentils overnight (or for 6-8 hours) in enough water to submerge them completely. Rinse and drain them. This will make them cook super quickly, and it will also help to release phytates, which can impact mineral absorption. However, it's not a necessary step, and red lentils will cook quickly whether you soak them or not. If you don't soak them, simply add them dry, as instructed in step 3!
  2. 2. Heat the oil over medium heat in a large pot. Add the onion and sautee until it's soft and golden (5-8 minutes). Add the ginger, curry, and turmeric, and mix the spices in.
  3. 3. Add the lentils and vegetable broth to the pot. Bring the lentils to a boil and reduce them to a simmer. Add the butternut squash and simmer until the pieces are fork tender and the lentils are soft (20 minutes or so).
  4. 4. Use an immersion blender to puree the soup to a desired consistency (you can make it as textured or smooth as you like). If you don't have an immersion blender, you can transfer the soup to a blender and then return it to the pot. Stir the kale into the warm soup and allow it to wilt down (you can add extra kale if you like things extra green!). Season soup to taste.
  5. 5. Transfer soup to bowls and top it with toasted chickpeas. Serve.

So much texture going on here!

curried red lentil butternut squash soup close up

If you don’t have red lentils, brown or green may take a little longer to cook, but they’ll work well, too. And you can easily substitute collards or chard for the kale, if you prefer them.

curried red lentil butternut squash soup top

I’ve got plenty of catching up to do since my little hiatus, so I’ll be busy responding to comments and emails in the coming days. I also owe you a weekend reading post, since I missed Sunday! I look forward to sharing that this weekend, along with more recipes. Hope you’re all well :-)


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{ 33 comments… read them below or add one }

Abby February 5, 2014 at 5:12 pm

I’m so glad you checked back in and are feeling better, so disregard my email asking if you are okay ;) All I know is that next time I get sick–knock on wood–I want you to come and make this soup for me. Deal? Deal.


Gena February 5, 2014 at 10:03 pm



Emma February 5, 2014 at 5:17 pm

This looks like the ultimate healing soup- squash, lentils, greens and cozy spices. Yum!
I love the idea of chickpea “croutons” too. I usually go for something creamy like avo/cashew cream on soup but a bit of crunch would be a nice change.


Jess February 5, 2014 at 7:02 pm

Love toasted chickpeas, but never thought to use them as a topping for soup. Thanks for the inspiration! This looks delicious.


Gena February 5, 2014 at 10:02 pm

It’s a good one, Jess! And yeah, toasted chickpeas on soup is my new thing. Hope you like.


Star February 5, 2014 at 7:38 pm



Elisabeth February 5, 2014 at 8:56 pm

This looks beautiful! Soup is the perfect nourishment for combating a cold. I made beet borscht the other day, and it was so tasty that I ate it three days in a row! It had carrot, celery, potato, onion, beets (of course), beet greens, chickpeas, vegetable broth, dill, and lemon juice. Thanks for sharing this lovely recipe!


Shawnna February 5, 2014 at 9:39 pm

Glad to hear that you are on the mend! Don’t feel like you “owe” us anything or have to make up for your absence. Rest, recover, and take care of yourself. :)


Liz S. February 6, 2014 at 2:12 am

So glad you’re back! Hope you continue to heal and feel better.

Great comforting soup!


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InĂªs February 6, 2014 at 4:13 am

Does this look tasty or what? I would try it right now, if I had the strenght to cook- I have been sick for the last four days with a huge fever (102.2F)! How did you get back on your feet? By eating your marvelous food? Or did you took any magical potion? :)
Glad your feeling better!


janae @ bring joy February 6, 2014 at 10:51 am

Glad you’re feeling better! We’ve managed to dodge the flu so far this year (knock on wood), but I know how yucky it is & how it throws everything off.

Gena, I so love your recipes. I know I say that over & over, but really, you keep things real & basic, yet delicious. You also remind me of things I need to get back into, like toasting chickpeas & adding them to soup. What a brilliant idea.

Hope you continue to feel better!



Amber Lee February 6, 2014 at 12:51 pm

Looks perfect for a cold day like today. Im happy you are feeling better!


Alex Caspero MA,RD (@delishknowledge) February 6, 2014 at 2:42 pm

Looks delicious! The perfect soup for this chilly and rainy weather :) Love the topping of toasted chickpeas, I want a little crunch in my creamy soups.


the delicate place (@misathemeb) February 6, 2014 at 2:53 pm

that looks sooooo comforting! i hope you continue to get your strength back, the flu sounds killer! i have luckily avoided it save 1 time when i was like 14


MG February 6, 2014 at 4:32 pm

this sounds DELISH. adding ginger to any soup makes me feel instantly better. i just started a blog, and made me some minestrone with some ginger :) (add it in the first step)


Julie @ The Simple Veganista February 6, 2014 at 4:47 pm

Glad your feeling better! I’m so lucky to have not been sick in I don’t know how long…somehow I manage to shake it while everyone else around me seems to get it. The only down side is I can never use the excuse of being sick…a headache maybe or tummy ache but that’s about it. ;) But I’m not complaining! LOL

This soup looks wonderful! I’ve been loving curries lately and will have to give this a try! A that goodness in one bowl is a wonderful thing. :)


Lauren (@PoweredbyPB) February 6, 2014 at 5:38 pm

Glad you are feeling better. This looks like perfect healing food.


Jenni February 6, 2014 at 6:06 pm

So glad you’re feeling better! Toasted chickpeas are great. I’ve never put them on soup before! You should try roasting edamame next time. (Maybe you already have.) I recently tried some store-bought roasted edamame (only ingredients are the soybeans themselves and sea salt) and I fell in love with them immediately!


Angela @ Canned Time February 6, 2014 at 7:39 pm

My oh my that looks like something I would love to take out of the freezer and getting boiling up on the stove on a February night when I’m beat tired and starved!! I am the ultimate soup lover but I want the crunchies on top too…your toasted chickpeas sound like a great change from croutons or crackers ;)
So glad you’re back in the kitchen!


Lauren February 7, 2014 at 3:49 pm

Glad to hear you’re on the mend – this has been a tough winter with the back and forth temperature swings!

Question about those red lentils – must they really be soaked? I make a similar soup recipe (red lentils, sweet potatoes, curry, spinach) and the lentils are mushy and delicious in only 30 minutes of cooking with no prior soaking.



Amy February 8, 2014 at 8:47 am

I was wondering about the lentils too. I’ve never heard of soaking lentils at all, and especially not RED lentils! Is this just something you like to do Gena?


Gena February 8, 2014 at 8:59 am

Lauren and Amy,

No, they definitely don’t need to be soaked. I’ll modify the recipe to make clear that soaking is optional. Red lentils do cook quickly! I soak when I can to release anti-nutrients and make cooking that much faster. But in the case of lentils, I also don’t worry too much if I don’t have time to soak. (I always soak beans if cooking from scratch.)

Hope this makes sense —



Alexa February 8, 2014 at 8:02 pm

Beautiful colors! I have achilles tendonitis, so I’m thinking the turmeric will really help it! (and gives me an excuse to cook this haha)


Tiffany February 8, 2014 at 11:33 pm

Looks delicious! The perfect soup for this chilly and rainy weather. Cook now :)


Gabby @ the veggie nook February 9, 2014 at 3:03 pm

This sounds so comforting! I have so much squash to use, you have inspired me to make soup with them! I need some comfort food right about now…


Gena February 10, 2014 at 9:44 am

Enjoy, doll.


kimmythevegan February 9, 2014 at 11:14 pm

Mmmm this soup sounds so warm and delicious… very comforting.
I love the idea of adding roasted chickpeas on top – what a fun & unique idea!


Gena February 10, 2014 at 9:43 am

They are a great soup topping, Kimmy!


Alice Wingo February 10, 2014 at 2:43 pm

I made this for the first time yesterday with fresh turmeric. My husband and I love the flavor, especially with the crunch of the roasted chickpeas. A new favorite!


Dana February 14, 2014 at 6:53 pm

Making the soup this morning after a long week with a yucky cold. Searched online for a soup with healing nutrients and found your blog from Hayley Pomroy’s Pinterest pages. Looking forward to a yummy lunch, especially with those toasted chickpeas, a big face. Stay healthy and thank you.


Dana February 23, 2014 at 10:28 pm

Wanted to follow-up and say THANK YOU for the amazing soup. I’m making a second batch right now for tonight’s dinner. It’s so delicious, especially with the spinach wilted in (or kale) and a dollop of roasted chickpeas. I ate the last batch over a mix of brown rice/quinoa. Delish!


Randi (laughfrodisiac) February 28, 2014 at 9:57 pm

I love curried soups, and this combination sounds lovely!


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