I like to roast the squash first though I wonder if you could get a reasonable result without it. I suspect that you would need to increase the cooking time and though the red lentils wouldn’t need that I doubt it would hurt them since the goal is a smooth puréed soup.
2 TBSP olive oil
6 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped (I use my mini chopper or a garlic press for this)
1 onion OR 2 leeks, chopped (if desired--I think I might often season only with garlic)
1-2 tsp ground coriander (I feel this is the secret to the tastiness)
1-2 tsp ground cumin (I prefer to add slightly less cumin than coriander)
1-2 tsp smoked paprika OR
1/2-1 1/2 tsp chipotle powder depending on your spice preference
1/8-1/4 tsp ground cinnamon (I don't want a sweet soup, but I love adding a dash of cinnamon to savory dishes like this soup and chili)
3-5 large carrots, chopped or sliced into rounds (or an equivalent amount of smaller carrots)
1 roasted red, yellow or orange pepper, chopped (optional--last time I didn't use any)
Flesh of 2 small, or 1 medium or large roasted squash, in large chunks
1 cup dried red lentils, picked over and rinsed
8-10 cups water or stock or enough to just cover the rest of the ingredients by about 1 1/2 inches
Salt, pepper to taste
Champagne or cider vinegar to taste
- Use the sauté mode in the Instant Pot. Add the oil and sauté the garlic and onion/leeks (if using) until soft but not browned. It’ll smell wonderful. You might want to use the lower sauté setting on the IP so the garlic doesn’t burn
- Add the spices and cook another couple of minutes. I don't know if the flavors are really better using this technique, but I like to do it this way to let them bloom in the oil.
- Add the remaining ingredients. Close the Instant Pot and set to Manual for 10 minutes on high pressure. I suspect this is more than is really required. It’s possible that even 5 minutes at high pressure would do the trick but you want to make sure the carrots are nice and soft
- Puree the soup. I have an immersion blender, which makes things much easier, but you could do this in batches in a blender. However, if using a regular blender, I'd be tempted to make the soup a day ahead and cool without pureeing. Puree the cold soup and then simply reheat.
- Taste the soup and adjust the seasonings. Cider vinegar was a great addition this last time.
- This soup goes especially well with Drop Biscuits. Sauteed greens are an excellent side dish. I sometimes plop them in my soup bowl. It also freezes extremely well for winter lunches. My kids like little strips of prosciutto or crumbled herbed feta as toppings