Copy Cat in the Kitchen: Red Lentil and Kabocha Squash Soup

A review copy of Herbivoracious by Michael Natkin has been sitting on top of my file cabinet at work for about a year and a half. I’d marked several recipes that looked good, set it aside, and forgot about it. After finally trying a recipe for this installment of Copy Cat in the Kitchen, the book is coming back to the Cat Cave and I’m bookmarking the Web site.

I made the Red Lentil and Kabocha Squash Soup with Harissa Oil, partly because I love squash soups, but also because the recipe’s headnote says its adjustable spice levels make it great for serving with kids at the table.

Getting the ingredients ready was pretty easy, especially considering that this was my first time cooking with kabocha squash. (I was concerned that the squash wasn’t ripe enough to yield a good soup.) The scent of a couple of tablespoons of garlic wafting through the Cat Cave brought cheers from my Better Half (B1/2) and Rambunctious 9-Year-Old Boy (R9B), who were busy installing a little shelving unit in the next room.

Picky 2-Year-Old Girl (P2G), however, was not impressed when I said the delightful scent meant we were having soup for dinner. She threw herself prostrate on the floor, “No soup! Not having soup for dinner!”

I hope her terrible twos end when she turns three.

Anyway, after half an hour of cooking and some pulsing with a hand blender, the soup was smooth as silk. My squash concerns were for naught.

photo courtesy of Michael Natkin /


Our local international foods purveyor was out of harissa, so at the table I subbed Huy Fong chile garlic sauce in my portion for the Harissa Oil drizzle. I did add the lemon juice and cilantro. Delicious. A little pita bread with some dukkah on the side and I was gold. I had a couple more helpings that night and finished the rest for lunch two days later. Bonus: I froze the remaining kabocha chunks for future use. I’ll be making this recipe again.

R9B gave the soup a big thumbs-up and called it an A. But once again his shoveling slowed after his initial spoonfuls. He cleaned his bowl, but had to be nudged to do so.

B1/2 had plans to dine out with a friend the night I made this—and she prefers brothy soups—but being a team player, she tried some. She graded it an A+. Once her bowl was clean, I had to keep her from going for seconds and spoiling her appetite. Minutes later I found her licking clean the spatula she used to get all of the leftovers into storage containers.

The Scorecard

Three clean plates out of four.



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