Nigel Slater has a tradition of making soup on New Year’s Day. This is a warm ochre pumpkin dal soup recipe, soothing, capable of releasing a slow build-up of heat from its base notes of garlic, chili and ginger; it's a bowl of soup that both whips and kisses.
Prep Time 10minutes
Cook Time 30minutes
Total Time 40minutes
Author Stephanie Stiavetti
For the soup
1cup plus 2 tablespoonssplit red lentils
1 1/4teaspoonsground turmeric
1 1/4teaspoonschili powder
1smallpumpkinabout 3 pounds
1/4cupchopped cilantroor parsley, if you're cilantro-averse
Salt and freshly ground black pepperto taste
For the onion topping
2smallhot chili peppers
To make the soup
Peel the onion and chop it roughly. Peel and crush the garlic and put it with the onion into a medium-sized, heavy-based saucepan. Peel the ginger, cut it into thin shreds and stir that in too. Add the lentils and pour in 6 cups of water. Bring to a boil, then turn the heat down to an enthusiastic simmer. Stir in the ground turmeric and chili powder, sea- son and leave to simmer, covered, for twenty minutes.
While the soup is cooking, bring a medium-sized pan of water to a boil. Peel the pumpkin and scoop out the seeds and pulp, then cut the flesh into fat chunks. Boil the pumpkin pieces for ten minutes, until they are tender enough to pierce with a skewer without much pressure. Drain them and set them aside.
Remove the lid from the lentils and turn up the heat, boiling hard for five minutes. Remove the pan from the heat, then add the drained pumpkin. Puree the soup in a blender (for safety, a little at a time) until smooth, then pour it into a bowl. Stir in the roughly chopped cilantro and check the seasoning. I find this soup likes a more generous than usual amount of salt.
To make the onion topping
Peel the onions and cut them into thin rings. Cook them in the oil in a shallow pan until they start to color. Cut the chili peppers in half, scrape out the seeds and slice the flesh finely. Peel and finely slice the garlic and add it with the peppers to the onions. Continue cooking until the onions are a deep golden brown. Set aside.
To serve the soup
Serve in deep bowls with a spoonful of the spiced onions on top.