Kabocha French Lentil Soup Recipe

An anise and ginger-spiked French lentil soup, from a charming little cookbook I stumbled on titled SoupLove. The broth is thickened by lots of roasted winter squash, and it's great with lots of garlicky croutons.

Kabocha French Lentil Soup

Last weekend Heather (my sis) and I waited for a break in the rain, loaded little Jack into the stroller, and headed toward the Mission district. We made lots of stops along the way - coffee, lunch, and The Curiosity Shoppe included.

The Curiosity Shoppe always has all sorts of neat things in stock. This time I came across a really sweet, unassuming cookbook titled SoupLove. It's by chef Rebecca Stevens, just 30 pages in length, single color, and features twelve simple, seasonal soup recipes including this Kabocha French Lentil Soup. The illustrations by Nabil Samadani send the charm factor to a ten.

French Lentil Soup Recipe

The soup? It is anise and ginger-spiked, with a broth thickened by lots of roasted winter squash. And for those of you keeping track, I promise, this is the last lentil soup for a while ;) I made a double batch, and we ate generous bowls for dinner topped with lots of extra-garlicky croutons. Then I put enough for one more meal in the refrigerator, and froze three freezer bags worth of leftovers.

For those of you who are interested in tracking down a copy of SoupLove, Nabil has posted a list of stores that are (or will be) stocking it. Or you can order it through Etsy for $8 - there you can see the cover, and a couple of the illustrations.

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Kabocha French Lentil Soup

Rebecca calls for kabocha squash or other dark orange winter squash. I've been buying rugosa squash here in SF at Bi-Rite, it's an heirloom butternut squash - deep orange, creamy - it was really nice in this soup. I doubled this recipe. But still used just 1/2 cup water when roasting the squash.

1 kabocha or other dark orange winter squash, 1 1/2 lb. / 24 ounces / 680 g

1/2 cup / 120 ml water
1 tablespoon olive oil
sea salt
1 cup / 7 oz / 200 g green lentils, rinsed
5 coins ginger, 1/8-inch thick
1 whole star anise
6 cups / 1.5 liters water
1 teaspoon sea salt, plus more to taste
1/4 cup / 60 ml olive oil
1 yellow onion, medium dice
1 leek, sliced into 1/4 moons
1 fennel bulb, medium dice

red pepper flakes

Preheat oven to 425F/ 220C with a rack in the top third of the oven. Cut the squash in half and remove the seeds. Oil and salt the squash and roast cut side down (in a rimmed baking pan) with the 1/2 cup / 120 ml of water poured into the pan. Roast until tender, about 35 to 45 minutes. When cool enough, scoop out cooked squash and set aside.

In the meantime, in a medium saucepan, combine the lentils, ginger, star anise and water. Simmer until tender, about 30 minutes. Add 1 teaspoon salt.

In a large stockpot combine the olive oil, onion, leeks, fennel and additional salt. Cook covered over low heat until vegetables soften, about 7 - 10 minutes.

Remove the star anise and ginger coins from the lentil sauce pan, then add the lentils, lentil broth and squash to the vegetables in the stock pot. Stir well and cook for another 15 minutes or so, allowing the flavors to blend. Taste and adjust the seasoning here with more salt if needed, and in my case I used a few generous pinches of red pepper flakes as well.

Serve as is, or topped with lots of garlicky homemade croutons.*

Serves 4 - 6.

*For the croutons I simply ripped up the remainder of a day-old loaf of Outerlands bread into tiny shreds, doused it in olive oil, garlic, and a bit of salt, and toasted it in the oven until golden and crunchy - I think the oven was set to 375 at the time.

Prep time: 20 minutes - Cook time: 60 minutes

If you make this recipe, I'd love to see it - tag it #101cookbooks on Instagram!

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I've made this soup twice now. It was divine each time! If you like fennel, you'll love this recipe. The star anise, fennel, and ginger created such a unique flavor. I used pre-sliced butternut squash which held up well and added a nice bit of creamy texture. Now I find myself thinking about it when my mind wonders! Thanks for the healthy treat!!


Delicious recipe. I did modify and used 2 cups chicken stock and 4 cups water. It is a great. The Kobocha squash hold up well and has a nice creamy consistency to it. I'll definitiely make it again and can't wait to try the Coconut Red Lentil soup you recently posted. Thanks again for your efforts. Our taste-buds thank you too.


Great soup, I made it tonight. I used butternut squash and it added a nice thickness to the broth. I'll be stocking the freezer with extra batches for quick weeknight dinners. I love that I can eat enormous servings of your food and not feel guilty - the vast majority of your recipes are so healthy, Much appreciated.


My grandmother, being of German descent, always had a pot of either beef barley soup or lentil soup on the stove when we'd visit. I love them both. I make lentil soup even more now since I'm diabetic and keep many different soups in the freezer. I'm always ready for a new lentil soup recipe no matter what time of the year. Would love to see a good recipe for old fashioned Scotch Broth. Thanks for a great blog and all the recipes you've added to my life.


I've made this soup twice now - both times with butternut squash. It's incredible. Thanks for posting this! I used a few extra star anises the first time and I really liked the stronger flavor. I love your blog!

Rebecca Lipski

This was most definitely one of the best soups I've ever had. Kabochas are awesome. I agree with all the folks who say you can never have too many great lentil soup recipes!

Kumar Plocher

this is a beautiful soup. i my market only had a spegetti squash and i used collard greens instead of leeks. but it looks lovely, its sitting now. Thank you friend.

Amber rose

how would you do this in an electric slow cooker?


This is a great recipe! Last night I changed it up a bit to make it less of a soup and more of a main dish. I added extra squash, less water to the lentils and cooked up some brown rice to serve it on. It was delish! Thanks so much for all your great ideas, Heidi!


we just made this recipe and it is flip-flappin delicious. we modified the recipe by omitting the leek (this was on accident, we forgot to pick one up at the store), we cooked the lentils in 1/3 veggie broth 2/3 water, at the end we added beet greens and some browned chanterelles and crimini mushrooms, and we thickened the broth with a roux. topped with parm. we were thinking this is the best soup we have made all winter. so great, thanks for sharing this recipe!

amy nicole

Made this a couple of days ago and it was beyond wonderful! I heated it up for leftovers last night and it became more of a stew than a soup. The lentils seem to continue to soak up the water days later but it was so good. Thank you for a healthy vegetarian recipe. I love your column too.


What a wonderful combo of flavors, simply soup-erb! Sub'd butternut & buttercup squash, &1/2 tsp. 5-spice powder for the star anise. Enjoying leftovers tonight w/the Seeded Flatbread ! - Anticipation....


I just made this and thought I'd share my little tweaks. I ended up using my immersion blender to puree it at the end, which seemed necessary because the squash didn't entirely fall apart when I added it to the soup. After blending it I liked it twice as much. I also swirled in a dollop of creme fraiche, which made it deliciously velvety. the garlic croutons are a must. The ginger and anise flavor was very subtle - I'd use more next time.


I just made this and served it to my 3 kids and they gobbled it up! I used the last of my baby hubbard squash and it turned out amazing. Please don't stop the lentil soup recipes, my family loves lentils and I feel so good serving them!


Funny -- I just made Martha Rose Shulman's marinated french lentils with your (Mark Bittman's) Millet Butternut Squash bake as a meal for a sick friend. For dessert: Nikki's Healthy Cookies. This soup would have meant one less dish! Must try this!!


Yum! I have been in total soup mode this week. Must be that end-of-winter rush for warmth. I love kabocha and can't wait to try this one.

Otehlia Cassidy

I was needing an iron-rich meal and made this soup last night. I'm not usually a fan of lentils, but this was delightful! Definately making again. I couldnt' find the kabocha squash, so i used acorn instead. Also, i diced some sweet potatoes and threw them in with the onion/fennel mix.. really nice!


Love this soup!!! I love making soup and this one went straight to the top of my list! Had it for a little birthday gathering for my sister-in-law and got rave reviews. When it was finished I thought it just a bit more like stew than soup so put in 2 cups of veggie broth and it was perfect! Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!


I love lentil recipes. This sounds delicious. Thank you.


Any ideas for using beluga lentils? I know the Big Sur Bakery cookbook has at least one.


I made this yesterday - delicious. I thought needed a bit of depth and freshness at the end though so threw in a handful of torn black olives, fresh coriander and lemon juice for the last few mins cook time. Really brought the earthy gingery tones out. Another fantastic recipe Heidi!


I gave this recipe a try last night. The combination of flavors proved to be excellent and it is such a delicious soup! I love your idea for the garlic croutons - made mine from a round sourdough loaf. It will be tricky to ever eat soup without them again...

The Rockin' Vegan

Made this for lunch today and used sweet potatoes instead of squash since that's what I had on hand. I cubed the cooked potatoes and added them to the bottom of the bowl before ladling the soup into it so they wouldn't disintegrate. It was crazy good...the perfect thing for a cold day! Thank you for the fantastic recipe!


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