Phew! I’m back. It’s been a busy two weeks with lots of birthday cakes, cupcakes, cookies and much more. We just celebrated my husband and two kids’ birthdays all within seven days. Now I really need a warm bowl of soup to relax with. The weather is colder, the air is crisper and I can’t get enough of squash/pumpkin flavors. This is a traditional recipe with a few updates. I used Puy/French lentils (just because they’re so pretty to look at) and sweet dumpling squash which has a lightly sweet flavor.
Lentils are a staple in the Middle East and used in so many different ways like this classic Lebanese soup and Mujaddara, a classic porridge very popular during the summer. Dishes in the area vary from region to region but the essence is the same, using local fresh ingredients to make nutritious meals, without relying so much on meats. In fact, it’s strange to see someone just eating a piece of steak! The majority of dishes include legumes and vegetables and accompanied by rice, bulgur or the old-and-hip-again freekeh used here and there.
1 lb (roughly) sweet dumpling squash (can substitute with butternut or red kuri), diced in bite size pieces
1 cup Puy lentils, picked through and washed (or any lentil variety)
4 cups water (+ 4 cups roughly for cooking lentils)
1 cup tomato sauce (I used a homemade plain sauce)
1 inch fresh turmeric root, peeled and grated
1 medium onion, diced
3 tbsp olive oil (+ 2 tbsp for squash)
2 tsp garam masala
1 1/2 tsp sea salt (adjust to taste)
1 tsp coriander
Freshly ground pepper to taste
Juice of half a lemon (about 2 tbsp) to finish
Bunch of watercress to serve
Pick through lentils to remove any debris, wash thoroughly and place in a heavy bottom pot. Cover with a generous amount of water (roughly 4 cups), bring to a boil and reduce heat to simmer covered until the lentil is cooked and tender. Check periodically to make sure water level is sufficient. Once cooked, remove and set aside.