Butternut Squash Soup with Crispy Lentils

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This cozy Butternut Squash Soup with Crispy Lentils is the ultimate fall recipe. Featuring creamy pureed squash and a crunchy surprise topping, you’ll want to indulge in bowl after bowl!
Prep 15 mins
Cook 55 mins
Total 1 hr 10 mins
5 from 18 votes

Thank you to ALDI for sponsoring this post! And thank you to my readers for supporting the brands who help make my work possible.

Is there anything more comforting during fall than a bowl of butternut squash soup? I don’t think so!

Every spoonful of this Butternut Squash Soup with Crispy Lentils features wholesome ingredients and warm spices, like butternut squash, lentils, cumin, and cilantro. It’s pureed until smooth, leaving you with a luscious and creamy meal to warm you up on chilly fall days.

To finish it off, crispy roasted lentils are sprinkled on top for crunch, complexity, and protein. It’s the best way to turn this appetizer into a main meal!

Table of Contents
1. Why this recipe works
2. Ingredient notes
3. Step-by-step instructions
4. Tips for making this recipe
5. Frequently Asked Questions
6. Recipe card

woman's hands digging a spoon into creamy butternut squash soup topped with lentils and herbs.

Why this recipe works

The most comforting yet wholesome fall recipe.

Roasted butternut squash has magical, comforting qualities, like a velvety, thick texture and a sweet, earthy flavor. It doesn’t even need coconut milk or cashew cream once it’s pureed—it’s creamy all on its own!

In addition, the handful of budget-friendly warm spices from ALDI give this soup extra comforting characteristics. Red pepper flakes add a subtle heat, cumin builds on the squash’s earthiness while highlighting another layer of warmth, and cinnamon brings out the natural sweetness.

Despite being cozy, it’s wholesome and vegan, gluten-free, soy-free, and nut-free.

Gourmet flavors without extra work.

I’ve gotten to know butternut squash quite well (as evident in my Butternut Squash Curry and Stuffed Butternut Squash recipes), and it can be time-consuming to prepare. So, I skipped all the peeling and dicing in this recipe (without any sacrifice in flavor). 

By cutting it in half, scooping out the seeds, and slicing a crosshatch pattern in the flesh, you achieve deeply flavored roasted squash without the wrist-aching peeling and chopping.

The baseline of flavor here comes from a short list of affordable aromatics and spices. By sautéing them ahead of time, their gourmet flavors are put on display without having to slow simmer the soup.

Finished with a crispy surprise.

Have you had the pleasure of trying roasted lentils before? They become delightfully crispy and add a fabulous surprise texture once topped on the creamy soup. You can even double up on the roasted lentils and use any extras on salads, grain bowls, or stuffed sweet potatoes.

Serving toasted bread on the side adds a chewy crunchiness at the end. Dip a piece in the soup to enjoy all of the best textures in one meal: creamy, crunchy, chewy, and crispy.

butternut squash soup topped with crispy lentils, fresh herbs, and served with bread in bowl on top of brown plate.

Ingredient notes

ingredients for butternut squash soup with lentils laid on green surface with ingredients labeled.

Butternut squash. A large squash (around 3 to 3.5 pounds) or two small squashes will do. The squash is halved, then roasted to fill this soup with layers of deep, earthy, subtly sweet flavors that you wouldn’t get if the squash was simply sauteed or boiled.

Green lentils. Dried lentils are a pantry staple I always pick up from ALDI because they’re one of the most affordable and easiest ways to bulk up meals. Both green or brown lentils can be used here, as they both crisp up well in the oven and act as a crunchy element on top of each bowl of soup.

Extra virgin olive oil. I like to keep Simply Nature Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil from ALDI on hand. The organic label doesn’t come with an extra price tag and the quality is fantastic.

Garlic + aromatics. Savory garlic, onion, and a warm spice blend add layers of comfort and depth.

Bread. A creamy soup always needs some bread for dipping. Both Specially Selected French Baguette or Specially Selected Italian Bread Loaf from ALDI add a contrasting chewy, crunchy texture when dipped into the luscious soup.

Step-by-step instructions

Cook the lentils. Cook the lentils in a pot on the stove or in your pressure cooker, but only until al dente (not soft!). Drain the lentils and lay them on a kitchen towel to dry (this is important for the roasting step). 

cooked green lentils laid out on a dish towel to dry.

Roast the squash. Cut the squash in half lengthwise, scoop out the seeds, and use a paring knife to cut a crosshatch pattern in the flesh. Rub the flesh with olive oil, salt, and pepper.

Having trouble slicing your squash in half? Just pop it in the microwave for 2 to 3 minutes to soften slightly.

Place the squash flesh side down on a lined baking sheet. Roast in the oven at 400ºF/205ºC for 30 to 40 minutes, until brown and tender.

Roast the lentils. Transfer the cooked and dried lentils to another sheet pan. Drizzle them with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Spread them out in an even layer, then roast until crisp, about 25 minutes (same temperature as the squash).

cooked green lentils tossed with oil and salt, spread out on a sheet pan.
crispy roasted lentils spread out on a sheet pan.

Cook the aromatics. When the squash is almost done roasting, heat some olive oil in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the onions and sauté until soft and fragrant. Next, add the garlic and sauté until aromatic.

Add the spices and stir to coat the onions for 30 seconds. Deglaze the pan with the broth, making sure to scrape up the brown bits stuck to the bottom. Simmer for 5 minutes.

Blend the soup. Transfer the roasted squash flesh to a stand blender. Pour in the broth and onion mixture and season with salt, pepper, and red wine vinegar. Blend with the center cap removed (to allow the steam to vent) until the soup is smooth and creamy.

Taste and adjust the seasonings as needed. Pour into bowls and top with crispy lentils and chopped cilantro and green onions. Serve the toasted bread on the side and enjoy!

spoon dug into a bowl of creamy butternut squash soup, topped with lentils and herbs.

Tips for making this recipe

The secret to crispy lentils.

Only lentils that are barely cooked will crisp up in the oven. If you cook them until they’re soft, they won’t dry out as well. 

It’s also important that you give the lentils time to dry after cooking. Cooked and dried lentils = crispy, crunchy roasted lentils. 

To dry the lentils, lay them on a clean kitchen towel and spread out. Rest for 10 minutes (or longer). If they still seem a bit wet, drape the towel on top and very gently pat them dry (don’t smush them!). 

Achieving the right texture.

A regular stand blender will beautifully puree the soup, giving it a silky, creamy texture. If you want to wash one fewer dish and don’t mind a more rustic texture, blend the soup with an immersion blender or keep some of the roasted squash on the side and stir it in after blending.

Save time by multitasking.

The components in this recipe are easy to tackle, but there’s a right way to get them done efficiently:

(1) Prep the squash while the lentils are simmering

(2) Roast the squash, then prep the aromatics, and wait for the cooked lentils to dry

(3) Roast the lentils when the squash is 25 minutes away from being done

(4) Cook the aromatics on the stove with broth and toast the bread when the lentils and squash are almost done roasting

(5) Blend to soup, top with lentils and bread, and you’re done!

Frequently Asked Questions

Do you have to remove the the butternut squash peel before blending?

Technically, you can eat the skin from roasted butternut squash. It doesn’t affect the flavor when blended, but it will slightly affect the texture. I prefer to peel the squash after it’s done roasting (when the squash is tender, it almost slips out of the peel).

How long does this soup last in the fridge?

The leftover soup will last for 5 or 6 days when it’s stored in an airtight container in the fridge. Keep the lentils in a separate jar at room temperature with the lid ajar to help them stay crisp for about 1 day. 

Can you freeze leftovers?

Yes, you can freeze the soup for 3 to 4 months. When reheating, add broth as needed to help thin it out and freshen up the flavor with a splash of red wine vinegar or lemon juice. The crispy lentils cannot be frozen though.

creamy vegan butternut squash soup topped with crispy lentils, fresh herbs, and served with bread in bowl.

I hope you love this vegan butternut squash soup as much as we do! Be sure to visit your local ALDI to stock up on all of the warm and comforting essentials for fall and if you try this recipe, leave a rating and review below with your feedback!

Butternut Squash Soup with Crispy Lentils

5 from 18 votes
This cozy Butternut Squash Soup with Crispy Lentils is the ultimate fall recipe. Featuring creamy pureed squash and a crunchy surprise topping, you’ll want to indulge in bowl after bowl!
Prep Time: 15 mins
Cook Time: 55 mins
Total Time: 1 hr 10 mins
Diet Gluten Free, Vegan, Vegetarian
Serving size: 4 with bread

Ingredients

  • 1 large or 2 small butternut squash (weighing 3 to 3.5 lbs or 1.4 to 1.6 kg total)
  • 3 tablespoons Simply Nature Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil, plus more for roasting squash
  • 1 heaping teaspoon kosher salt, plus more for seasoning
  • Freshly cracked black pepper
  • 3 cups (720 mL) Simply Nature Organic Vegetable Broth
  • ¾ cup (140g) green or brown lentils
  • 1 large yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 8 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon red wine vinegar, plus more as needed (or freshly squeezed lemon juice)

Spice Blend

  • 1 teaspoon Stonemill Paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon Simply Nature Organic Ground Cumin
  • 1/2 teaspon Simply Nature Organic Crushed Red Pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon Simply Nature Organic Ground Cinnamon

For Serving

  • 1 handful cilantro leaves and tender stems, chopped
  • 2 to 3 green onions, thinly sliced on a bias (optional)
  • Specially Selected Italian Bread Loaf or French Baguette, sliced into rounds

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 400ºF/205ºC. Arrange two oven racks, one on the bottom and one in the middle.
  • Cook the lentils. Bring a Dutch oven or large saucepan of water to a boil. Add a pinch of salt, then lentils. Reduce heat to maintain a simmer for about 8 minutes. Taste a lentil—it should be cooked through but with a bite to it (you don’t want it to get soft).
    Drain well and transfer to a large kitchen towel to dry out. You can gently run your hands through the lentils to help them dry quicker (it takes about 10 minutes).
  • Prep and roast the squash. While the lentils are cooking, slice the squash in half, vertically, then scoop out the seeds in the cavities (no need to peel the squash).*
    Take a paring knife and make some crosshatch marks in the flesh, but don’t cut all the way through to the skin. Drizzle each half, flesh side up, with some of the olive oil and rub in. Season the flesh with salt and pepper.
    Line a rimmed sheet with parchment paper. Place flesh side down and roast on bottom rack for 50 to 55 minutes, or until somewhat browned and tender.
  • Roast the lentils. Add the lentils to a second rimmed sheet pan and toss with 1 TBSP olive oil and sprinkle with a few pinches of salt and pepper. Spread the lentils out and shake the pan back and forth to evenly distribute so there’s no overlap. Set aside for now.
  • When the squash has 25 minutes left, add the pan of lentils to the middle oven rack. Roast for about 25 minutes, or until browned and crisp, shaking the pan halfway through to toss.
  • Cook the aromatics. When the squash has about 15 minutes left**, heat 2 TBSP of the olive oil in the saucepan used earlier over medium-high heat. Once hot, add the onions and season with a pinch of salt. Cook for about 7 minutes, or until softened and turning color. Add the garlic and cook for another 2 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the Spice Mix and stir for 30 seconds. Pour in the broth, scraping up any browned bits. Bring to a simmer and simmer for 5 minutes.
  • Toast the bread (now or before serving the soup). If you have a few minutes before the squash is done, toast your bread using a toaster oven. Alternatively, you can toast your bread in a frying pan with a bit of olive oil and toast on both sides until golden brown. Or, you can wait until the squash is done roasting and toast the bread in the oven for a few minutes on both sides.
  • Blend the soup. When the squash is done, remove skin (it should come off easily with your hands). Transfer flesh to a stand blender.
    Carefully pour in the onion-broth mixture and season with 1 heaping teaspoon kosher salt, lots of black pepper, and red wine vinegar. Remove the center cap and cover with a dish towel to allow steam to vent.
    Turn the blender to low, then slowly increase speed and blend for a few minutes until the soup is smooth, creamy, and warmed through.***
    Taste the soup seasonings and add more salt/pepper or vinegar or lemon juice as needed.
  • Pour the soup into bowls, top each with crispy lentils, and chopped cilantro and green onions, if using. Drizzle a bit of olive oil on each slice of bread, sprinkle with a pinch of salt, and serve alongside the soup.

Notes

*If you’re having trouble slicing your squash, nuke it in the microwave for 2 to 3 minutes to soften the flesh.
** These times are provided to make things efficient, but you can also assemble this soup component ahead of time, or roast the squash ahead of time.
*** No stand blender? Leave the onion-broth mixture in the soup pot, add the squash flesh, salt, pepper, and vinegar, and blend everything with an immersion blender. It won’t get as silky smooth as a stand blender and will be more of a rustic soup.

Calories: 340kcal | Carbohydrates: 52g | Protein: 12g | Fat: 11g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 8g | Sodium: 721mg | Potassium: 1107mg | Fiber: 16g | Sugar: 8g | Vitamin A: 20676IU | Vitamin C: 46mg | Calcium: 135mg | Iron: 5mg

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33 comments on Butternut Squash Soup with Crispy Lentils

  1. Ashley

    5 stars
    Incredible. By the way, any news on if Nisha is going to create a meal delivery subscription anytime soon? I remember filling out a survey about it a while ago.

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Hi Ashley, so glad you enjoy it! And it’s in the works! Stay tuned.

  2. Hope Bain

    5 stars
    If cooking lentils in pressure cooker, how much water to add, how long to set timer, quick release or nature release?
    Thanks, Hope

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Hi Hope, you’ll need to roast the lentils according to the instructions here, but if you want to cook them in the pressure cooker instead of stovetop, you’re in luck! We have a whole guide for cooking lentils in the IP here!

  3. Annie

    5 stars
    I had never heard of grilled lentils, and now that I tasted them, they’ll become a regular soup side here! My not-vegetarian-at-all husband called them “really good”, so you may claim a big win! Thanks again!

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Awesome, Annie. Thanks for your comment and for taking the time to review!

  4. Jubixpix

    Excellent recipe! I added cashews for added creaminess :) 11/10

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Hi, we’re thrilled to hear you enjoyed this recipe! Next time, would you mind leaving a rating alongside your review? Star ratings are big help to readers who are thinking of making the recipe. Thanks!

  5. Caitlin

    Could I use red lentils instead? If so, I assume I’d need to boil them for a shorter amount of time.

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Hi Caitlin, green or brown lentils both both crisp up well in the oven and act as a crunchy element on top of each bowl of soup. We’re afraid red lentils will be too mushy for the desired end result.

  6. Lisa

    5 stars
    Delicious! Even my 11-year-old liked the soup.

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Thanks for the lovely feedback, Lisa!

  7. Abbie

    5 stars
    This was delicious! Straightforward recipe with lots of flavor that was not too challenging to make! The spice blend had a nice kick to it but wasn’t too spicy at all. The lentils made it very filling and nutritious. Will definitely make this again! Probably next time I have company to impress ;) thanks for another great recipe Nisha!

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Abbie, So glad to hear you loved this recipe and will make it again! :) You’re welcome for the recipe!

  8. Courtney

    5 stars
    Made this tonight and it’s fantastic 😍 Thank you for all the great recipes!!

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Thanks for the lovely feedback, Courtney!

  9. rhonda

    5 stars
    Pleasing to the eye! Beautiful colorful dish . Very labor intensive but worth the goodness

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      We’re glad you enjoyed the soup, Rhonda!

  10. Christine

    The instructions say “Place the squash flesh side down on a lined baking sheet,” but the photo shows the squash halves flesh side up. Which is correct? I’m really eager to try this, especially since every recipe of yours that I have tried has yielded terrific results.

    1. Nisha Vora

      Hi Christine, it’s Nisha of Rainbow Plant Life (don’t think I’m logged into my account on my phone, but wanted to reply soon). Apologies for the confusion, I put the flesh side up in the photo so that you could see the crosshatch pattern. But the written instructions are correct – flesh side down. I don’t think it’ll make too much of a difference either way in terms of baking through, but I think you get a little more caramelization when you put the flesh side down.

      1. Christine

        Wow, thank you so much for your almost immediate response! I can’t imagine how you have time to do everything.

  11. Geetha Kannan

    5 stars
    Love your recipes Nisha. Please post some recipes with spinach .
    Thanks

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Hi Geetha! Great to hear you enjoy the recipes :) Just about all of our curry and soup recipes would be wonderful with the addition of spinach! Also this pasta salad! This Palak Paneer recipe is made using a ton of spinach!

  12. Mindy Richmond

    5 stars
    I love checking my email when I don’t have any idea what to make for dinner and this recipe was there! So good Nisha. Thank you for all your delicious creations.

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Mindy, So glad to hear you loved this recipe! :) You’re very welcome for the recipes!

  13. Susie

    5 stars
    Will make it as soon as I get the squash.
    Sounds healthy and delicious.

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Hope you enjoy this recipe, Susie!

  14. Kirsten

    Thanks for the recipe!
    Could you do this in an instant pot? If so how would you adapt it? (I’m very new to the instant pot!) :)

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      You’re welcome! And yes, you can! Saute the aromatics as written in the instructions using your IP saute setting. Then add your butternut squash flesh and broth. Pressure cook on high for 10 minutes, followed by a 5 or 10 minute natural pressure release before releasing the steam manually.

  15. Cheche

    You are brilliant Nisha and team… Keep it up!

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Thank you so much, Cheche! :)

  16. Corinne

    Thanks for the recipe, Nisha! I can’t wait to try this one! Do you have any tips for storing the roasted lentils to keep them crispy?

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      From Nisha: “You’re welcome, Corinne! They stay crispiest in a jar with the lid ajar, but I’m not entirely sure how long you can safely keep them at room temperature (I’ve done it before but I don’t know the science/food safety behind it). To be on the safe side, you can refrigerate them and then reheat them in a dry frying pan.”

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