My husband signed me up for a series of yoga classes called “Wellness for the Holidays”. The classes are featuring some yoga basics and complementing foods, appropriate for the current weather and designed to offset the gastronomical damages of the “Bermuda Triangle of a food junkie” – Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas.
This soup was featured in the Halloween/Thanksgiving class, and I thought it was magical.
In the past, I made several attempts to befriend squash and/or pumpkin soup, to no avail. I will spare you the details of the dramatic failures, crowing jewel of which was a recipe from a renowned domestic diva’s website flopping at Thanksgiving dinner; let’s just say that my relationship with squash soups were very complicated.
This soup was love at first sip, thanks to careful preparation and wonderful presentation skills of our yoga instructor. Contrary to my expectations after reading the recipe, it was not at all spicy, but rather elegant and silky. Spices are used very cleverly to bring out the flavors of the squash and add a warming from inside out effect. So you can say, this is a happy comeback.
While I cannot take any credit for the recipe, I did a few modifications to the original, which deal mostly with preparation method.
Tarka Squash & Pumpkin Soup
- 1 medium Kabocha squash
- 1 small pumpkin or Butternut squash
- 1 tbsp oil for drizzling
- 1 large yellow onion
- 1 tsp balsamic vinegar for drizzling
- 2 tsp fresh or dried rosemary
- 1 cup red lentils
- 1-1/2 quarts boiling water
- 1 10 oz can of coconut milk
- salt to taste
- 6 tsp ghee
- 4 tsp ground cumin (or cumin seed)
- 2 tsp ground turmeric
- 2 small red chillies, broken in half
Line a baking sheet with foil, drizzle oil over the foil, and sprinkle with salt.
Cut squash and pumpkin in half (butternut squash lengthwise), and discard the seeds. Lay squashes cut side down on the baking sheet and roast in the oven for about 40-45 minutes at 375°F. Let cool until manageable, scrape the softened flesh off the skin with a spatula or a wooden spoon and set aside. Discard the skin.
Boil red lentils in 1-1/2 quarts of water; meanwhile prepare the onion.
Finely chop the onion. Heat 2 tsp of oil (I used coconut oil) in a heavy pot. Saute onions until well caramelized, for about 7-8 minutes over medium heat. When ready, drizzle balsamic vinegar over the onions.
Add squash and pumpkin to the onion and saute together for a few minutes. Add chopped rosemary.
Pour the lentils along with the water into the pot. Stir well, and let cook over low heat for about 20-25 minutes, periodically stirring.
Meanwhile, prepare the tarka:
In a skillet, heat the ghee until slightly smokey. Add garlic and spices, reduce the heat, and saute spices in ghee for a few minutes, until well toasted and fragrant. Set aside.
Stir coconut milk into the soup and heat through. Simmer for another 5 minutes or so.
Remove soup from heat. Stir the tarka into the soup, cover, and let it sit for 5-10 minutes.
Puree the soup in a blender and serve hot.
Alternatively, puree the soup before adding the tarka, and then add the tarka to the soup straight into the bowls, before serving.