Serves: Makes 8 servings
- 2 tablespoons canola oil
- 1 medium yellow onion, minced
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and minced
- 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
- 1 teaspoon cumin seed, toasted and finely ground
- 1 dried red chile, broken in half
- 2 cups Indian red lentils, rinsed
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 quart chicken or vegetable broth (if canned, use equal parts broth and water)
- 1 quart water
- Kosher or sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 2 cups peeled butternut or kabocha squash, in ½-inch dice
- ⅓ pound mustard greens, ribs removed and cut crosswise into ½-inch-wide ribbons
Procedures:Despite their name, red lentils are coral, and they turn yellow when cooked. Here, they are simmered with fragrant Indian spices until they collapse into puree. Nuggets of pumpkin-colored squash and forest green ribbons of mustard greens are stirred in to complete the soup. Look for the lentils in Indian markets. Brown lentils are not a good substitute, as they don’t break down as readily as the red lentils do.
Heat the canola oil in a large pot over moderate heat. Add the onion, garlic, ginger, turmeric, cumin, and chile and sauté until the onion is soft, about 10 minutes. Add the lentils, bay leaf, broth, and water and bring to a simmer, skimming any surface foam. Cover and adjust the heat to maintain a gentle simmer. Cook until the lentils are soft, about 30 minutes.
Season the lentils with salt and pepper. Stir in the squash. Cover and simmer until the squash is almost tender but still slightly firm, about 8 minutes. Stir in the mustard greens, re-cover, and remove the soup from the heat. Let stand until the mustard greens soften and the squash is fully cooked, 5 to 10 minutes.
Remove the bay leaf and chile. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Divide the soup among warmed bowls. Serve immediately.