The 5-2 Challenge. Eating With The Seasons. Roast Pumpkin and Red Lentil Soup with Moroccan Spices


It’s been an incredibly busy week. Having driven over 2000 km in a return journey from Sydney to Melbourne, with pit stops in Daylesford and Canberra, we’re glad to be finally home. Easter is over. It’s April first. The weather is cooler. There’s a nip in the air. Autumn has definitely arrived. Synonymous with late harvest apples, basil, tomatoes, eggplant and zucchini. And new season pumpkins. Heavy, sweet, juicy and delicious golden orbs.

Last time we visited my father’s garden in Canberra the pumpkins were just beginning to form on the vine. This time the vines were beginning to wither but were still heavy with gourds. Needless to say we returned to Sydney with a car boot full of autumnal produce. Pumpkins included.


Back home it’s time to cook the first pumpkin soup of the season. As today  also happens to be Monday, it’s time to jump back on the 5-2 challenge wagon and kick start  my week with a fasting day. Here is a non dairy rendition of my favourite pumpkin soup. Roast Pumpkin and Red Lentil Soup with Moroccan Spices. It’s creamy and delicious and at only 156 calories per serve falls easily within the 500 calorie fasting day limit. There is an option to add a dollop of Greek yoghurt to your bowl of soup. However I preferred to treat myself to one small mini Easter egg. Here is how my day panned out.

Breakfast 2 cups tea


Lunch 1 cup grapes


Mid-Afternoon ½ cup grapes


Dinner 1 cup pumpkin soup


1 dinner roll


1 mini Easter egg


Total Calories



Roast Pumpkin and Red Lentil Soup with Moroccan Spices

Makes 8 cups
156 calories per cup (plus 20 calories for each tablespoon Greek Yoghurt)

500 g (about four cups) pumpkin, peeled & diced (190 calories)
2 tablespoons olive oil (240 calories)
1 onion, finely diced (46 calories)
1 leek, white part only, finely sliced (54 calories)
2 celery stalks, diced (12 calories)
2 carrots diced (50 caries)
2 cloves garlic, peeled and finely minced (8 calories)
1 long red chilli, finely minced (1 calorie)
4 stalks fresh parsley, finely chopped (2 calories)
2 teaspoons ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
4-6 cups chicken or vegetable stock (100 – 120 calories)
150 g (about 3/4 cup) red lentils (530 calories)
sea salt and freshly ground pepper

thick Greek yoghurt and za’atar to serve

PREHEAT oven to 180 C.
LINE a large roasting pan with baking paper. Place pumpkin in the pan, drizzle with a tablespoon of oil, a generous pinch or 2 of sea salt and a good grinding of pepper. Toss to coat.
ROAST for 30-35 minutes or until golden and tender.

MEANWHILE, place the remaining tablespoon of oil into a large saucepan over medium heat. Add onions and leeks and a generous pinch of salt. Reduce heat to low.
SAUTE, stirring often, for 10 minutes until soft and translucent.
ADD celery, carrots, garlic, chilli and parsley. Cook, stirring occasionally for a further 5 minutes.
ADD coriander, cumin and turmeric to the pan. Sauté for a minute or two, until fragrant.
ADD the lentils and cook for about 5 minutes until they just begin to soften.
ADD the roasted pumpkin and stock to the saucepan. Increase heat to medium. Bring to a gentle simmer and cook, covered, for 15 minutes, until the lentils are soft.
REMOVE from heat and allow to cool for 10 minutes. Purée soup using a stick or jug blender until smooth.
TRANSFER pureed soup to a clean saucepan. Return to heat and cook gently for a minute or two. Dilute with a little more stock or hot water if the soup seems too thick.
SEASON to taste with sea salt and freshly ground pepper.
LADLE into warmed bowls.
SERVE with a generous dollop of yoghurt and sprinkling of za’atar.

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