Food Files: Roasted Squash and Lentil Soup


As the year draws to a close and icy temperatures prevail, I am turning my energies towards the kitchen and creating meals that are easy, nutritious, substantial and beautiful. And though I’m no Nigella Lawson, I do love food and cooking and the creative process that lies therein. But every now and then I hit a wall {read: my husband starts complaining} and am in need of fresh inspiration. Cue, food stylist Ajda Mehmet. A couple of weeks ago I headed over to Belgium with Ajda in tow to shoot a sophisticated Belgian interior with a food element to accompany the shoot. It was a big day for us both with lots of work getting the place styled up and ready to photograph {with, like, a thousand stairs to run up and down}, which wasn’t helped at all by the glorious fumes of Ajda’s roasted squash and lentil soup wafting through the house. I’m not sure if it was that I’d been teased into total submission all day by the heavenly smells rising from the stove or whether I was just so hungry by the end of the day that I would have gnawed on my own arm, but this soup? It was good! Now, I’ve been witness to the magic of Ajda’s cooking on several occasions now, so I knew it would be good {just the other week I posted about her apple and pear crumble, which I’ve made twice since!} but this soup has changed the way I view soups forever.

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Roasted Squash and Lentil Soup

You will need:

1 butternut squash, peeled and cut into 2 inch cubes

1 large sweet potato, peeled and cut into 2 inch cubes

1 large carrots, peeled and halved

2 onions, peeled and quartered

4 cloves of garlic, peeled

Handful of thyme

Olive oil

Sea salt and cracked black pepper

1 tsp garam masala 

1 tsp cumin

1 tsp cayenne pepper

1 tsp ground coriander

1 tsp smoked paprika

200g red lentils

2 litres of chicken or vegetable stock

Juice of 1 lemon

Sea salt and cracked black pepper


To garnish:

Crème fraîche

Hemp seeds

Garden cress

Preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C). Toss all of the prepared vegetables and sprigs of thyme into a large roasting tray, drizzle generously with some good olive oil and season with sea salt and cracked black pepper. Roast in the oven for approximately 45 minutes, turning halfway through, until all of the vegetables are soft and have begun to singe and caramelise on the edges.

When the roasted vegetables have about 20 minutes left to cook, you can make a start on the lentils. Place a large, heavy-based saucepan on a medium heat and add a lug of olive oil. When the oil is hot, but not smoking, add the garam masala, cumin, cayenne, coriander and paprika and stir with a wooden spoon for about a minute. Add the lentils and continue to stir and cook for a further minute until all the lentils are coated in the spices and oil. Pour in your stock, increase the heat to high and bring the lentils to the boil. Once boiling, reduce the heat back down to a simmer, cover and cook for 15-20 minutes.


At this stage your roasted vegetables should be ready. Add the entire contents of the roasting tray to the lentils, sprigs of thyme and all, pour in the lemon juice, stir well to combine and cover and cook for a further 10 minutes to allow the vegetables to take on the flavour of all of the spices. Once the soup is ready set it aside to cool for about half an hour.

You can use a hand blender or a regular blender to purée the soup, although you may need to do it in batches if using the latter. Once the soup has been blitzed and is completely smooth, taste it and season well with sea salt and cracked black pepper. To garnish, sprinkle over some hemp seeds and garden cress and a generous dollop of crème fraîche.

Lovely served with sliced, crusty bread, toasted with grated gruyère cheese!


Doesn’t that look great? Thick and creamy, spicy but subtle in its flavors, this dish is a perfectly warm and comforting addition to the cool temperatures we’re getting now in Northern Europe. Thanks so much Ajda for sharing it with us! I’ve never really been a soup eater personally, having grown up in warm South Africa and Australia, but this recipe is so good, it’ll be soup, soup and more soup {and perhaps a little crumble} for us all winter long.

Bon apetit, or eet smakelijk, as they say here in the Netherlands!

Holly x

Recipe and food styling: Ajda Mehmet // Photography: Holly Marder {Avenue Lifestyle}

3 Responses to “Food Files: Roasted Squash and Lentil Soup”

  1. Great photos! and the squash looks delicious and (I know) it also is heavenly.
    Tnx Adja and Holly

  2. Ciara says:

    I think I can smell it from here! Time to come back to Ireland so you can cook for me Ajda…also jealous of the ability to pop to Belgium, let’s get planning the next international road trip soon!

    • Holly says:

      Take me! I’m up for an international road trip, but there’ll be no stealing Ajda away, Ciara! Dirk’s loving the influence she’s had on me and my cooking so you’ll have us both to contend with 🙂

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