Monday, March 10, 2014

Curried butternut squash & red lentil soup

While everyone else in the country seems to be all, "Spring is almost here.  Finally!"  I'm all, "No no no, spring can't be almost here. I'm not ready yet!"

Yes, I love snow and winter, and I got very lucky this year since we were blessed with, um, lots of snow and all things winter.  But I'll admit that sunny skies, warmer temperatures, and more hours of daylight are pretty fantastic

I took a few just-because walks this weekend and was surprised just how happy this break from winter made me.  Turns out I love a leisurely stroll for which I'm not dressed in enough layers to be mistaken for the little brother in A Christmas Story.

In case you haven't been outside or heard anyone talking about spring, simply turn on the TV to be reminded of it approximately every commercial break.  "Remember to buy raincoats, rain boots, and pastel colors!" urge the clothing companies.  "Make a list of the projects around the house to tackle," say the home improvement stores.  And even, "Start planning your summer vacations!" from the travel companies

Stop!  Just stop with the springtime to-do lists.  I love me a good list but can't dream of starting mine until my winter to-do list is finished.

I still need to buy a new winter coat.  Somehow, I managed to make it through nearly 5 months of cold weather without finding one I liked.  I realize my finicky taste is partially to blame, but I promise I'll find one soon.  I can feel it.

I also want to finish the two books I'm currently reading because the time I spend inside is going decrease greatly.  Inside and sitting still.

And, I had to make this soup!  It's been at the top of the pile of wintry recipes I've been hoarding for months.  After one glance at this week's forecast, I knew I had to make it before I missed my chance entirely and had to wait until next year.  Soon, everything will be all fresh produce this and swimsuit season that, and nobody's going to pay attention to a soup with squash and lentils.

But you should pay attention to this soup because it's utterly hypnotic.  It will reel you in with its scent and bewitch your taste buds, spoonful after spoonful.  All fancy words for it's really really good so make this now!

Butternut squash and carrots are simmered with a handful of aromatics and major spice players.  Tender lentils absorb all of those good flavors and give the soup body.

The combination of the sweet butternut squash and warm curry and ginger is unlike anything I've ever tasted.  It reminded me of dinner's answer to Mexican hot chocolate -- cinnamon, cayenne pepper, and chocolate -- with the back and forth banter between sweet and spicy.  This soup is light yet filling (and, shh, healthy) and seriously satisfying.

This is the kind of dish that will make your soul sing.  I'm so happy that I finally made it!  And then enjoyed it for lunch and dinner two days in a row.  Gotta get while it's still winter the getting's good, right?

Now, if I can only find a heavy winter coat, I'll gladly offer myself up to be bitten by the springtime bug.

One year ago: Peanut butter hot chocolate
Two years ago: Mini corn dog muffins
Three years ago: Scrambled eggs with guacamole
Four years ago: Chocolate cake doughnuts

Curried Butternut Squash & Red Lentil Soup
(inspired by a local recipe & adapted loosely from Gourmet)
-makes 6 servings

2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
1 1/2-2 pound butternut squash, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 large white onion, chopped
1 carrot, chopped (about 1/2 cup)
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 Tablespoon curry powder
1 1/2 cups dried red lentils, picked over & rinsed
2 quarts (8 cups) water
Ground black pepper

Heat oil and butter in a large heavy stock pot over medium heat until foam subsides.  Cook squash, carrots, garlic, ginger, and 1 teaspoon salt, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are softened and beginning to brown, 15 to 20 minutes.

Stir in curry powder and1/4 teaspoon black pepper and cook, stirring frequently, for 2 minutes.  Add lentils and water and bring to a simmer.  Cover and cook until lentils are tender 30 to 40 minutes.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.  Enjoy!

1 comment: