An Indian Twist on Soup: Butternut Squash, Red Lentil & Turmeric Soup (vegan, gluten-free, grain
Butternut squash soup tends to be a classic cold weather soup. It purees beautifully into soup and pairs well with many flavors. This winter vegetable is shaped like a large pear, has cream-colored skin, deep orange-colored flesh and a sweet flavor. Butternut squash is noted for its health benefits, containing supportive properties like lutein, zeaxanthin.
Butternut squash is notoriously tricky to cut. Winter squash have starchy, hard flesh, and an odd shape which requires a special approach to cutting. To cut into cubes, first cut it in half between the neck and bulb. This makes peeling it much easier. Cut bulb in half and scoop out seeds. Slice the squash long-wise into flat “planks” and then cross-wise into a dice. If you’d rather not tackle cutting a squash yourself, I’ve found peeled and cut butternut squash in the frozen aisle at Whole Foods.
This soup can be made in 30 minutes (or less!) and uses only 7 ingredients (I didn’t count salt). Red lentils add protein and fiber, really making the soup hearty and filling. When there is a chill in the air, I find using warming spices really helps to make a meal feel satisfied, warming me up from the inside out. Naturally, I turned to the cuisine that uses so many brilliant spices: Indian.
Shounek’s mom gave us a lovely stainless steel Masala Dabba (traditional Indian spice box) for a wedding shower gift. The box houses spices used in traditional Indian dishes like turmeric, red chili powder, fennel seeds, and cumin seeds. These spices are so vibrant and incredible tasting.
Enjoy the creamy soup with garnished with chopped cilantro. I topped mine with a spoonful of homemade coconut yogurt (unsweetened), which gives it a little tang just like sour cream. You can use store bought coconut yogurt, just be sure it’s unsweetened. If you tolerate dairy feel free to add a dollop or Greek yogurt as well.
*Be careful when cooking with turmeric powder. It is a natural dye and can stain easily.
**If you don’t have red chili powder, you can substitute with crushed red pepper or a bit of fresh minced jalapeno.
Butternut Squash, Red lentil & Turmeric Soup
Serves 4 small bowls
Time: 30 minutes
1 medium onion, diced
2 gloves garlic, minced
2 cups diced butternut squash
1 cup red lentils
¼ tsp turmeric powder*
½ tsp red chili powder***
½ tsp salt
1 box organic vegetable broth
½ tsp maple syrup or honey (I used raw honey)
Prepare all of your veggies first.
Heat a medium dutch oven or soup pot to medium high heat. Once your pot is hot (and not before!) add the diced onion.
Sauté onion for 5-6 minutes until it begins to brown lightly.
Add diced butternut squash and cook for another 2 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Add garlic, turmeric and red chili powder and cook down another minute. You’ll want to add the spices now so that the heat can allow them to “bloom” or allow the heat to open up the oils.
Add broth and lentils. Cover, and bring to a boil. Once boiling, turn down to a simmer and cook for 15 minutes, until both the squash and lentils are very tender and cooked through.
Puree the entire soup mixture in a blender, food processor or with an immersion blender. Transfer back to the pot. Stir in honey (or maple) and adjust seasonings if needed.
Serve topped with chopped fresh cilantro or coconut yogurt.