Sunday, November 22, 2009

butternut lentil dal

You didn't think I was going to make it through last night, did you?

But I did.

And I made it to work party this morning, leaving Joey sick again in bed, dragging the girls behind me. They cheered up with a little Roald Dahl in the car.

Today, we moved our friends from one house to another.

They just sold their house, a house that they built with their own hands. I was thinking today about all of the work parties that we've had over the years at that house. We've plastered walls and moved wood and planted lots of things in the ground. The kids have crawled and run and ridden their bikes in the driveway. And now the house has moved on, and so have they. The new owners even took over the chickens.

I've never been very settled. Growing up, I lived in more houses than I could count. But I was thinking today about the special kind of settled that has allowed me to be around for all this movement. It feels like such a gift to be let in on my friends' transitions, even to help out with them. If feels like something that I can't put my finger on is rooted, even if everything moves so fast around it. Does that make any sense? It's hard to find the words. I guess it's something like community.

And the soup, despite the hour at which it was made, was a hit. Sweet and warm, like the sunny fall day that required it.

Butternut Lentil Dal

This soup was born out of a day when I had a few friends over for lunch. I had made roasted butternut squash soup and red lentil soup, and everyone decided to combine them. So I played with the combination and here's the result. Let me know what you think.

2 medium Butternut Squash (about 3 lbs)
1/2 stick butter
2 large onions, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
3 inch piece of ginger, peeled and grated
2 cups red lentils, rinsed
6 cups water
1 1/2 pounds potatoes, peeled and cut into bite sized chunks
3 carrots (about 1/2 lb) peeled and cut into bite sized chunks
1 can coconut milk
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp salt, plus more to taste
1/4 tsp cardamom
1/2 tsp curry powder
1/4 tsp cinnamon

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Place the squash, whole, on an oiled baking sheet. Bake for about an hour, or until they are slightly blackened and the skin is loose. Allow to cool.

Melt the butter in a large soup pot. Add the onion and sautee over low to medium heat, stirring occasionally, until it starts to caramelize, 15-20 minutes. Add the garlic, grated ginger, cumin, turmeric, salt, cardamom, curry powder, and cinnamon. Cook for another 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the lentils and the water. bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and cover. Add the potatoes and carrots. Cook for about 20 minutes, or until the lentils are tender.

Meanwhile, when the squash is cool enough to touch, peel off the skin. It should come off easily. Separate the seeds from the flesh. Combine the squash flesh with the can of coconut milk in a blender or food processor and puree until smooth.

Add to the soup pot and cook for an additional 10-15 minutes. Taste for seasonings and adjust if needed. Add additional water if soup is thicker than you would like. Serve with rice and roasted cauliflower.

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