This is one of those recipes that, once you taste it, you can count on craving it again. It is also the kind of dish that is perfect for a cool night — be it autumn, winter, or spring — and it’s loaded with fresh, bright flavors. I discovered it in Gourmet’s Quick Kitchen which I had snatched off a rack a few months ago in the grocery store the second I saw that “Gourmet” logo that so many of us miss. I later realized that I had shamelessly paid $11 for a thin magazine, but I quickly justified the cost (when it comes to food, I am good at this) because it’s full of great ideas, like this one.
The best part is that it’s so different from any other squash soup I’ve tried. It’s beautiful too, and serves up as a lovely dinner for special guests. Old friends of ours were back in town after some years away, and knowing their affinity for Indian flavours, I decided on this for the main dish, which was not in the least bit selfless on my part. I served it with some homemade naan, using this recipe, and raita (I promise to share my recipe for this soon) to help cut the heat from the curry.
Curried Squash & Red Lentil Soup
From Gourmet Quick Kitchen, Fall 2010
Ingredients for soup:
- 3 Tbsp vegetable oil (I use regular olive oil)
- 2 Tbsp unsalted butter
- 1 and 1/2 lb butternut squash, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch pieces
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 1 carrot, chopped (I use 2 carrots)
- 1 celery rib, chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 Tbsp minced peeled ginger
- 2 Tbsp curry powder (the recipe suggests Madras which is from Southern India, but I used Muchi from West India which is spicier)
- 1 cup red lentils, picked over and rinsed
- 2 qt water
- 1 tsp lemon juice, or to taste
- salt and pepper
Ingredients for Cilantro Oil:
- 1/2 cup chopped cilantro
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil (I use regular olive oil)
- Heat oil with butter in a large heavy pot over medium heat until foam subsides, then cook squash, onion, carrot, celery, garlic, ginger and 1 tsp salt, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are softened and beginning to brown, 15 to 20 minutes.
- Stir in curry powder and 1/4 teaspoon pepper and cook, stirring frequently, 2 minutes.
- Add lentils and water and simmer, covered, until lentils are tender, 25 to 40 minutes. Stir in lemon juice and season with salt and pepper.
- Pureé cilantro, oil, and 1/2 teaspoon salt in a blender.
- Serve soup over freshly cooked basmati rice, drizzled with cilantro oil.