Curried Squash & Red Lentil Soup


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)


  1. 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.
  2. Stir in curry powder and 1/4 teaspoon pepper and cook, stirring frequently, 2 minutes.
  3. 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.
  4. Pureé cilantro, oil, and 1/2 teaspoon salt in a blender.
  5. Serve soup over freshly cooked basmati rice, drizzled with cilantro oil.
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5 Responses to Curried Squash & Red Lentil Soup

  1. Etirsa says:

    I’ve been waiting for a gluten & dairy free recipe of yours!! I love butternut squash, but I ONCE tried to cut & peel it and I just about lost my hand!! You may remember I don’t share an affinity for food or cooking like you do, but with our ‘intolerances’ I cook more often than I would otherwise…anyways, do you have tips on this so simply stated, but deadly art of peeling & cubing butternut? Thanks, Steph!! Beautiful site!!

  2. Tío says:

    talk about comfort food! gah! sign me up.

  3. Em says:

    Nice Steph! I’v been wanting to try this after you mentioned it a while back! Looks so good and a very affordable meal too! And the Nan! Yum! Are red lentils easy to come by or only sold in stores like Whole Foods?

  4. Rita says:

    I love this colorful, “earthy” dish! I felt so healthy eating it. No guilt. And it was delicious! Thank you for broadening my culinary horizons:)

  5. Stephanie says:

    Etirsa- oh yes, cutting butternuts can be a dangerous job, but here’s how I do it:
    1. Peel the entire thing with a potato peeler (I used to just use a knife, but had too many close calls) and cut off stem.
    2. Cut the round bulb part of the squash from the “neck” of the squash.
    4. Cut the bulb section in half and scoop out the seeds (I use a melon-baller because it’s sharp and scrapes everything out quickly).
    5. Turn the half-bulb, flat side down onto the cutting board and make slices across the bulb- you will have thin half-moon slices.
    6. Dice your half-moons into little cubes.
    7. Slice the “neck” into rounds, and then cut those in half, and then into strips, and then cubes.

    I know it sounds a bit labor intensive, but it’s actually pretty quick, and you will keep your fingers attached…which is, I think, the very best part!

    Em- red lentils shouldn’t be too hard to find. You can definitely find them at WF in the bulk section, or at any Middle-Eastern foods market. And for anyone who doesn’t have either of those, you can get nearly everything by ordering online!

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