6 Tbs extra-virgin olive oil
2 onions diced
4 garlic cloves finely chopped
2 Tbs tomato paste
2 tsp ground cumin
Pinch of cayenne pepper
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more if needed
Freshly ground pepper to taste
12 ounces butter nut squash, peeled, seeded, and diced
1 cup red lentils
2 cups chicken stock
1 13.5 ounce can unsweetened coconut milk
5 ounces baby spinach (optional)
1 tsp grated lime zest
Fresh lime juice as needed
1. In a large pot, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat until it is shimmering. Add the onions and garlic, and cook until they are soft, 5 to 7 minutes. Stir in the tomato pate, cumin, cayenne, the 3/4 teaspoon salt, and black pepper to taste; cook for 2 minutes.
2. Stir in the squash and the lentils. Pour in the stock and four cups of the water, and bring the mixture to a simmer over medium-high heat. Then reduce the heat to low and partially cover the pot; simmer until the lentils and squash are soft, about 30 minutes.
3. Stir the coconut milk into the soup and heat it through. Taste, and adjust the seasoning if needed.
4. Using an immersion blender (or working in batches in a blender or food processor), coarsely puree the soup. Then stir in the spinach if the using and the lime zest, and cook until the spinach wilts. Season with lime juice right before serving.