Curried Winter Squash Soup with Red Lentil, Coconut Milk and Clams

Let me start today with extending a huge thank you, and emphasize how much your lovely emails, and comments, here and there, touched us. You make an amazing crowd of generous people; each of your kind thoughts and words brought a wide smile to our lips.

You know, the French are not quite talented at giving hugs — we are actually rather awkward with them, more experienced with the tradition of kissing someone on both cheeks, two or four according to the region (don’t worry, I too get confused) — but if I could just share a large collective hug with all of YOU, I would. That would be a really nice thing, actually. Non ?

So yes, I surely hope that there will be baby recipes coming up in this space — no doubt that I am already inspired. Of course, I am aware that feeding a baby might not be so easy at the beginning. I too remember my early teenager days (oh yes indeed), when I used to be a picky eater at times. Yet, my mum never gave up, or cooked special things for us — and I am glad. Both my palate and my brother’s developed because of her patience, and persistence. I am convinced that this has largely contributed to shape us into becoming two adults loving good food.

So once again, a big thank you to all of you. You are the best.

curried lentil squash soup clam

Curried Winter Squash Soup with Red Lentil, Coconut Milk and Clams

I woke up because the tip of my nose was cold. P.’s back was turned to me; his heavy breathing made me realized that he was still deep asleep. I sat up in bed and scanned around the room still filled with complete darkness. Could we have forgotten to close a window in the bedroom?

We had, indeed.

But in fact, it did not make a difference. It was only reinforcing the fact that colder temperatures had hit us overnight. I smiled. That meant that the leaves on the trees would change color even faster, something I had secretly been waiting for — fall is definitely a wonderful season around here.

The day was perfect to go out for a walk, especially since our friends Akiko and Pierre were visiting from Paris. (Akiko Ida and Pierre Javelle are amazingly talented food photographers. Do you remember seeing fun food pictures with little characters on them, the very ones that tell wonderful stories, such as firemen on a crème brûlée? These are all their creations.)

red kuri squash potimarron

On vous emmène au cimetière Mount Auburn,” I told Akiko after she and I returned from our morning yoga class. “Tu verras, les arbres là-bas sont vraiment très beaux.” (We are taking you to Mount Auburn Cemetery. You will see, trees there are amazingly beautiful.)

Especially at this time of year, when they create a patchwork of vibrant colors so pleasing to the eye.

Mount Auburn Cemetery was founded in 1831 as America’s first landscaped or garden cemetery. The place comprises 175 acres of hills, dells, ponds, woodlands and clearings, with an impressive collection of over 5,000 trees. It feels extremely quiet to walk there, and from the top of Washington tower, you get a panoramic view of the vastness stretching in the distance, with the city as a backdrop.

Despite the chilly air, the sun felt warm as it brushed softly the tip of the trees with its generous light. When we arrived at the top of the tower, it was fairly windy; we knew we would not stay long. But we could not help but admire the explosion of colors spreading in front of our eyes. In a few weeks, I knew it would be even better.

It’s like following the blossoms during Spring in Japan,” I told A. “Many people come in New England to follow the leaves as they turn color.

We enjoyed a relaxed walk. We chatted away. We laughed, doing all the nice things friends do together. I was already imagining the hot chocolate we would have once we returned home.

A. and P. could not stay too long in Boston, not leaving much time for me to cook for them, especially since we went out for dinner. Yet I still managed to bake a hazelnut marbled cake which we tasted at breakfast.

marbled cake hazelnut

I want the recipe,” A. said after she swallowed the last piece on her plate. “What gives it this color?” she went on.

C’est la farine de noisettes,” (it’s the hazelnut flour) I said with a smile. I was thrilled she liked it.

The cake felt moist and light, even after we ate a few slices each.

Il est bien moelleux à cause de la compote de pommes que j’ai ajoutée,” I added. (It’s moist because of the apple stew I put in). Heirloom apples also give it a distinctive taste — the best.

lasagna eggplant mushroom

The weekend was conducive to hearty foods.

I was glad to have prepared a warm dish of mushroom and eggplant lasagna that we enjoyed at lunch, and a nourishing soup which we ate for dinner — both dishes matched the mood of the weekend perfectly.

Clams in the soup?” P. said once he saw the steaming pot of rich vegetable broth brought to the table. “That’s pretty unusual.

Yes. Right. Well, I just felt like eating a hearty soup like this one. I also used curry and added cooked red lentils.

Toasted tartines of baguette, flavored with olive oil, thyme and melted Manchego cheese accompanied our dish.

You really like winter squash, don’t you?” P. said after he had his first spoonful.

Did you notice too?” I answered, laughing heartily.

During the last two weeks, we had been eating all sorts of dishes made with potimarron (red kuri squash), my favorite, and acorn and butternut squashes too. When the season is at its peak, I cannot resist the vivid orange color of these vegetables, and feel inspired to no end.

Don’t you?

They really know how to make food look happier.

Never a bad thing.

Curried Winter Squash Soup with Red Lentil, Coconut Milk and Clams

(For 4 people)

You need:

For the soup:

  • 1 lb 2 oz red kuri squash, seeded and diced
  • 4 carrots, peeled and diced (5 oz)
  • 1 leek, white part only, chopped
  • 1 celery branch, chopped
  • 1 zucchini (7 oz), cut in pieces
  • 3 cups water
  • 1/2 cup (3.5 oz) red lentils
  • 1 shallot, chopped
  • 1 tsp ground curry
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 3/4 + 1/8 cups coconut milk
  • A splash white wine
  • 20 clams (about 4 to 5 clams per person)
  • Chopped parsley
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • Salt and pepper

For the tartines:

  • Slices of baguette, or a bread of your choice
  • Olive oil, to brush
  • Fresh thyme, chopped
  • Manchego cheese, grated

Steps:

  • In a large pot, heat 2 Tbsp olive oil. Add the shallot, leek and celery. Sweat for 2 minutes, until soft, making sure that the vegetables never brown. Then add the ground cumin and curry, and cook for 1 minute until fragrant.
  • Add the rest of the vegetables and continue to cook for 5 minutes.
  • Add the water, salt and pepper and simmer, covered, for 20 minutes, until all the vegetables are soft.
  • Mix the soup. Check the seasoning, and add the coconut milk. Keep warm.
  • In the meantime, cook the red lentils (1/2 cup lentils requires 1.5 cups water, plus salt; cook until soft, most of the water will be absorbed; set aside).
  • Cook the clams with a splash of white wine on high heat, covered, until they are open; set aside.
  • Add the lentils to the soup; mix well.
  • To make the tartines, brush slices of baguette (or another rustic bread) with olive oil. Sprinkle with thyme and grated cheese, and place under the broil for a few minutes, to brown slightly.
  • Laddle the soup in a bowl. Add the clams and parsley, extra grated Manchego cheese, and serve with the tartines.
Le coin français
Soupe au potimarron parfumée au curry, avec lentilles corail, lait de coco et praires

(Pour 4 personnes)

Ingrédients :

Pour la soupe :

  • 500 g de potimarron, sans graines, coupé en gros dés
  • 4 carottes, pelées et coupées en dés (140 g)
  • 1 poireau, partie blanche, haché
  • 1 branche de céleri, hachée
  • 1 courgette (200 g), coupée en dés
  • 750 ml d’eau froide
  • 100 g de lentilles corail
  • 1 échalote, hachée
  • 1 càc de curry en poudre
  • 1/2 càc de cumin en poudre
  • 200 ml de lait de coco
  • Un soupçon de vin blanc
  • 20 praires ou coques (environ 4 à 5 par personne)
  • Persil haché
  • 2 càs d’huile d’olive
  • Sel et poivre

Pour les tartines :

  • Tranches de baguette, ou un autre bon pain de votre choix
  • Huile d’olive
  • Thym frais, haché
  • Fromage Manchego, râpé

Etapes :

  • Dans une grosse cocotte, faites chauffer 2 càs d’huile d’olive. Ajoutez l’échalote, le poireau et le céleri, et faites suer pendant 2 à 3 minutes, sans laisser brunir. Ajoutez le cumin et le curry, et poursuivez la cuisson pendant 1 minute jusqu’à ce que les saveurs se dégagent.
  • Ajoutez le reste des légumes, puis continuez la cuisson pendant 5 minutes.
  • Ajoutez l’eau, du sel et du poivre, puis faites mijoter à couvert pendant environ 20 minutes, jusqu’à ce que les légumes soient tendres.
  • Mixez la soupe. Vérifiez l’assaisonnement et ajoutez le lait de coco. Gardez au chaud.
  • En attendant, faites cuire les lentilles corail (1 volume de lentille requiert 3 volumes d’eau, du sel. Cuisez jusqu’à ce que les lentilles soient tendres. L’eau sera pratiquement absorbée; mettez de côté).
  • Cuisez les praires avec un soupçon de vin blanc sur feu vif, à couvert, jusqu’à ce qu’elles soient toutes ouvertes; mettez de côté.
  • Ajoutez les lentilles à la soupe et mélangez bien.
  • Pour faire les tartines, badigeonnez les tranches de pain avec de l’huile d’olive. Ajoutez le thym, et le fromage râpé. Passez sous le gril jusqu’à ce que le fromage soit fondu, et que les tartines soient grillées.
  • Versez la soupe dans des assiettes creuses, ou des bols. Ajoutez les praires, du persil frais, et du fromage râpé Manchego. Servez avec les tartines.
Posted in Appetizers, Fish, Gluten Free, Soup, Vegetarian | 62 Comments

62 comments

  1. I have wonderful memories of walks through Mt. Auburn-I would pass it daily on the bus on my way to work in Harvard Square. As for the soup-it looks sublime and I will be trying it this week. Merci Bea!

  2. I’ve been reading your blog for the past two years or so… I am SO excited for you! Keep it up please, your writing makes me happy the way that only writers like Peter Mayle and Mireille Guilliano’s can. What can I say except je suis un francophile.

  3. that soup is glorious. even it’s color is completely autumnal. i had never thought to put lentils or clams in something like that.

  4. Great photos, again, Béa. I love the fall colors. It is soup weather again, definitely!

  5. Merci Bea! Your photos are beautiful as always! Are you going to post the recipe for that delicious looking hazelnut cake?

  6. Oh yes, that hazelnut cake, what an idea–might you post it?

    And thanks for as many things squash as you can post–love how my body seems to ache toward all these autumnal veggies about now.

  7. Everything looks wonderful!!! Beautiful colors. Florida does not have these colors on the trees. However, we do have an emense amount of gree.:)

  8. En un mot: fabuleux!
    La soupe a l’air divine, et je ne ferais pas la fine bouche devant les lasagnes et le marbré non plus, et les arbres sont magnifiques… Je vous souhaite une fin de grossesse à leur image: belle et sereine.

  9. Oh! That looks so lovely and hearty. I too would love the recipe for your hazelnut cake. Clams and squash are such New England foods it make sense to put them together

  10. On aurait presque envie de retourner en automne, les couleurs et l’atmosphère sont splendides…

  11. About kisses and hugs – I am originally from Brazil, but lived in Paris for several years. Back home we don t hug, we kiss. Usually three kisses – the interesting thing, is that in Brazil we give the first kiss on the “opposite” side of the cheek, compared to the French way….

    that made for quite a few “bumping of noses” until I learned the right way to move my face… tres amusant, n’est ce pas?

    :-)

  12. The hazelnut marbled cake looks delicious. Have you got the recipe for that on your website? Would you publish it? Thanks!

  13. Oh your soup almost makes me wish it was Autumn here…almost!…hehe
    Looks delicious and once again the combination of colours… superb!!

  14. It’s official, you are too cool for words… and you have the coolest friends! I make the other soup you posted last month with the coconut milk, tofu/pork and fresh noodles at least once a week and we finish the whole pot everytime! This one sure looks wonderful!
    I need to make a trip your way next year…absolutely no fall colors here, it’s all green and green :)

  15. Bea,
    I have been reading your blog for at least two+ years and have tried many of your recipes on my husband and five year old grandson. I am very glad for you and P. with your special news about the baby and wish you good health and happiness. I do hope that you will start planning your baby recipes because I have just found out yesterday that I am going to be a grandmother again and I will need them.

  16. Your pictures are so beautiful…
    Will you share the hazelnut marbled cake recipe? It looks delicious (particularly with the hot chocolate you mentioned before)! One of my favorite cake is a marbled cake too, with brown sugar and marzipan (http://melaskitchen.blogspot.com/2008/07/where-it-all-began-omiarie.html), but I’d love to try your recipe.
    I discovered winter squash this year (I guess I’m only now getting out of my “picky eater” phase…), but I love their colors and all the different shapes. The butternut and the sweet dumpling are my favorites for the moment. I will try the potimarron again, with your recipe!

  17. Superbes photos, couleurs magnifiques! Ta soupe a l’air fameuse. Mes papilles louchent gravement sur ton marbré à la noisette, vas-tu nous donner ta recette bientôt? Pleeeeeease!
    Amitiés,

  18. C’est si beau. C’est un peu comme ca aussi dans ma campagne ces jours-ci, sous le soleil, assez magique.
    A hug too.

  19. Hello Darling Bea. Firstly, congratulations on your wonderful news, though it’s hardly news to you any longer, n’est pas? The seasons in Toronto are not too far off yours in Boston and I’ve been simply loving the Autumnal changes. The food, the scenery and the wardrobe too. I love pulling out my Autumn coat for the first time, and all my hats and scarves and knits. Le sign. It’s all so lovely. Wonderful soup! Just too yummy!

  20. I love the story along with the recipes, it all looks so cozy and delicious. The pictures are incredible! I hope to try the curried squash soup, love the color!

  21. Incredible photos, as always. By the time I finish reading the soup’s title, I was dreaming.

  22. hello ive been reading your blog for awhile now and have tried quite a couple of recipes. however i’ve failed to ever leave any comments so here i am!
    i absolutely love la tartine gourmande!
    and i just wanted to say that the franco-russian orthodoxe community here in paris do 3 kisses on the cheeks…which is always very confusing for me!

  23. Autumn has such a fairytale quality…more so for me who does not experience it (we have no autumn in the Philippines). You photos of the trees are gorgeous and that soup sounds delicious…I love squash soup but have never had it with clams…MMM!

  24. Heya! Just wanted to tell u that ur pics are AMAZING… it’s so dream-like and makes me so happy just looking at them :)

  25. I just made the soup (I only had a butternut squash on hand but its a pumpkin cousin :). It is delicious… the coconut milk has made it incredibly rich and creamy! I almost didn’t want to add the lentils because it was so beautiful but I did and WOW! I left it as a vegetarian soup (no clams) but it is still delightful :) I think I will serve it with some grilled naan bread for supper… thanks again for a lovely recipe to add to my saturday soup (while I clean the house) repertoire :)

  26. many many thanks to you all, once again.

    I will try to get to posting the cake recipe. And in the meantime, I am glad, Clevermonkey, that you enjoyed the soup! It is so much the type of food I want to eat right now!

  27. Your soup is beautiful! I’m in a squashy state of mind, I think I’ll have to give it a go this week.

  28. I love curry with squash. It is one of those combinations that you might never think of on your own, but once it is mentioned it seems so obvious.

  29. I was going to leave you a message on the previous post, but there were so many, i figured one more here wouldn’t hurt. a tremendous congratulations to you and P!! How exciting and u look so incredibly happy.

    Soup looks great. I just made a carrot ginger w/ tarragon for dinner. it was incredible. anything orange right now makes me smile :)

    Bon Soir

  30. just when i think people can’t do anything new with winter squash – here ya go! great example of bringing something ordinary to a whole new level.

  31. Salut Bea, on doit etre enceinte du meme nombre semaines. J’ai hate de lire tes recettes pour bebe. Bravo pour le blog. C’est simplement beau.

  32. What a creative twist on winter squash soup- it sounds like a wonderful combination of flavors. Beautiful photos, as always!

  33. Fabulous recipe. I’m craving all things autumnal at the moment, the fridge is full of sweet potatoes and squashes, this looks like a spicy alternative to a normal roast squash and pepper soup.

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  37. Recently I have grown more and more fascinated by the beautiful geometries of food shots taken directly from above, like the one above with two plates over a beautiful red tablecloth (and many others from your stream).
    One thing I can’t seem to understand is how one should go to setup a shot like that? do you mount the tripod directly above the food (with the food on the floor or a very small table) and then place the camera facing down with the center post of the tripod mounted at 90 degrees?
    Does the photographer need a ladder to be able to view the shot from the viewfinder or do you simply shoot tethered onto a monitor?
    I would really appreciate a reply from you (the best would be to actually be able to see the picture of such a setup) possibly by email.
    Thank you so much in advance
    Francesco

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