Simple though it is, this soup is really tasty and lends itself to creativity with the flavourings
100 g yellow or pink lentils (toor or masoor daal)
250-300 g red squash or any other squash, unpeeled, cut in half and seeds removed
1 small sweet potato, unpeeled
2-3 garlic cloves, peeled
2 tbsps extra virgin rapeseed oil
1 tsp red chilli powder
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp coriander seeds
30 g butter
1 fresh green chilli, slit lengthways into four strips
500 ml water
Freshly ground black pepper (optional)
1 tbsp chopped fresh coriander
Single cream for swirling (optional)
Plain cooked long-grain rice (optional)
Wash the lentils well until the liquid clears. Transfer to a bowl; add enough water to cover by 2.5cm (one inch) and leave to soak for at least one to two hours, but longer if possible.
Preheat the oven to 150ºC/300ºF/Gas Mark 2. Cut the squash, sweet potato, onion, and garlic into small pieces and place in a roasting tray. Add the oil and toss to coat.
Mix in some sea salt, the chilli powder, and cumin and coriander seeds, and roast for 20-25 minutes, turning now and again, until the vegetable skins are soft and lightly coloured.
Meanwhile, melt the butter gently in a saucepan. When foaming, add the green chilli and sauté for one minute.
Add the lentils and their soaking liquid plus the measured water and bring gently to the boil. (If done too briskly, foam will rise to the surface and need to be skimmed off, which will take some of the butter with it.) Cover and simmer for 20 minutes, or until the lentils are fully cooked.
Add the roasted vegetables, scraping everything off the tray, and bring to the boil again. Purée the mixture with a blender to a smooth soup – a few bits will remain, but these add a pleasant texture. If you prefer the soup to be completely smooth, pass it through a fine sieve.
Taste and adjust the seasoning as necessary. Serve sprinkled with the fresh coriander, plus a swirl of cream and/or some plain long-grain rice, if you wish.