Ready for a new way to experience this classic cold weather soup? Nutrition Expert Jessica Patel is ready to kick it up a notch with this Indian-inspired version: Butternut Squash, Red lentil & Turmeric Soup.

Butternut squash is a winter-favorite squash that is shaped like a large pear, with cream-colored skin, deep orange-colored flesh and a sweet flavor. It purees beautifully into soup and pairs so well with many flavors. Noted for its health benefits, butternut squash contains supportive properties like lutein and zeaxanthin, carotenoid pigments which give the squash its vibrant orange and yellow colors. Lutein and zeaxanthin help selectively support and maintain eye health.

When there is a chill in the air, spices can make meals feel more satisfying, warming me up from the inside out. Naturally, I turned to the cuisine that uses so many brilliant spices: Indian.  

As one of the most popular and powerful spices used in Indian cuisine, turmeric’s remarkable health benefits come from a property in the spice called curcumin. Research has demonstrated a number of potential benefits, including easing inflammation and improving blood sugar regulation. 

This soup can be made in 30 minutes (or less!) using only a few ingredients.  Red lentils add protein and fiber that makes it hearty and filling.  Garnish with chopped cilantro and a spoonful of unsweetened coconut yogurt for a little tang, similar to sour cream. If you can tolerate dairy, add a dollop of Greek yogurt instead!


Makes 4 small bowls

  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 cups diced butternut squash
  • 1 cup red lentils
  • ¼ tsp turmeric powder*
  • ½ tsp red chili powder**
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 box organic vegetable broth
  • ½ tsp maple syrup or honey
* Be careful when cooking with turmeric powder. It is a natural dye and can stain easily.
** If you don’t have red chili powder, you can substitute with crushed red pepper or a bit of fresh minced jalapeno.

Takes 30 minutes

  1. Prepare all of your veggies first.
  2. Heat a medium dutch oven or soup pot to medium high heat. Once your pot is hot (and not before!) add the diced onion.
  3. Sauté onion for 5-6 minutes until it begins to brown lightly.
  4. Add diced butternut squash and cook for another 2 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  5. Add garlic, turmeric and red chili powder and cook down another minute. You’ll want to add the spices now so that the heat can allow them to “bloom” or allow the heat to open up the oils.
  6. Add broth and lentils. Cover, and bring to a boil. Once boiling, turn down to a simmer and cook for 15 minutes, until both the squash and lentils are very tender and cooked through.
  7. Puree the entire soup mixture in a blender, food processor or with an immersion blender. Transfer back to the pot. Stir in honey (or maple) and adjust seasonings if needed.
  8. Serve topped with chopped fresh cilantro or coconut yogurt.

Jessica Patel, RDN, LDN is a Chicago-based private practice dietitian who helps others connect with good food through simple, healthful cooking techniques. With a love for wholesome, natural food, Jessica uses a holistic-minded approach to nutrition to help her clients stay healthy through the healing power of nourishing foods. Visit her at Well Fed Nutrition.