This Indian-inspired opo squash and yellow lentil soup uses simple ingredients to create a meal with huge flavor. You’ll enjoy every bite of tender squash and creamy lentils spiced with mustard, cumin, and garam masala.
I first came across opo squash in an Asian market, and as I’ve learned more about what it is and how to cook it, it’s become a fun ingredient to use in a wide variety of recipes.
It’s a great replacement for summer squash, but it’s also been a wonderful way to try out flavors from different Asian cultures.
This Indian-inspired opo squash soup uses spices to create a flavorful and creamy vegetarian meal. The tender lentils and opo squash absorb flavor from the broth and spice-infused oil to create a really warm, satisfying meal.
Why You’ll Love this Recipe
- It’s healthy and hearty enough to be a stand-alone meal.
- Naturally vegetarian and easy to make vegan.
- Full of delicious Indian spices and flavors.
This yellow lentil soup is made with really easy-to-find, basic ingredients that combine to create a really big punch of tasty flavor. You should be able to find most of them at a grocery store year-round, though the best season for opo squash is summer through early fall.
- Split yellow lentils – Brown lentils, french green lentils, or split red lentils are also fine to use. The flavor and appearance of the soup will be different, but still delicious.
- Onion – I used yellow onion, but you can also use white.
- Garlic – Use 4 whole cloves of fresh garlic.
- Opo squash – This may also be sold as a bottle gourd, calabash, or cucuzza. If you can’t find one, just swap in summer squash.
- Chickpeas – Either a drained can of chickpeas, or a cup of dried ones that have been soaked overnight will work.
- Turmeric – Use the dried, ground spice, or replace it with ½ tablespoon of fresh grated turmeric.
- Ghee – This is clarified butter which you can buy, or even make. But extra virgin olive oil works just as well and makes this recipe vegan.
- Cumin seeds – I used whole seeds, but you can use the same amount of ground cumin if needed.
- Black mustard Seeds – You can also use yellow mustard seeds, but they have a less intense flavor.
- Chili powder – Use a blend that has a good heat level for your family.
- Garam masala – This is actually a combination of many spices. You can buy it pre-made or mix up your own blend.
- Cilantro – This is an optional garnish that adds a great fresh flavor.
Making this delicious, summery Indian soup should take less than an hour. You’ll need a large pot and a skillet with a lid or splatter screen.
Before you begin cooking, peel and dice the opo squash and onion, mince your garlic, and wash your lentils. Rub them gently under running water until it runs clear.
Then combine the lentils, 1 whole chopped onion, squash, chickpeas, garlic, and turmeric in the large pot with all of the water. Bring it to a boil over high heat, then reduce it to low and simmer for about 40 minutes. You want the lentils to be a tender, creamy texture. Stir occasionally, and if any foam forms on top, skim it off.
In the last few minutes of cooking, infuse the oil or ghee with the spices. Heat the ghee in the skillet over medium heat and add the remaining onion, cooking until browned. Then add all the remaining spices and stir. The mustard seeds will begin to pop, so quickly cover it with a splatter screen, or with a lid that’s partially cracked open.
Once they begin to pop, pour the infused oil into the soup. Stir it together to make sure it’s mixed into every bite, and taste it. Add salt if needed and let it cook another minute or two, then serve with a generous sprinkle of freshly chopped cilantro.
Storage and Serving
Since this opo squash soup is vegetarian and has no cream, it’s a great candidate for freezing if you want to make a big batch. It stores well in the refrigerator for up to 5 days, or the freezer for up to 3 months.
I hope you love every bite of this creamy yellow lentil soup. It’s a great way to use a unique squash, and enjoy the big spices of Indian cuisine. It’s healthy, hearty, and delicious!
While you’re here, don’t forget to check out some of my other tasty vegetarian dishes too.
- Cucumber Gazpacho
- Creamy Spinach Chickpea Curry
- Vegetarian Barley Burgers
- Falafel Wrap with Tzatziki Sauce
Indian Yellow Lentil Soup with Opo Squash
For the lentils:
- 1 cup split yellow lentils (toor dal)
- 1 onion , finely chopped
- 4 cloves garlic , minced
- 1 medium opo squash , peeled and diced
- 1 cup chickpeas , soaked overnight and drained (or 1 ½ cups drained canned chickpeas)
- ½ teaspoon ground turmeric
- 5 cups water
For the spice-infused oil (Tadka):
- 3 tablespoons Ghee (clarified butter)
- ¼ onion , diced
- ½ teaspoon cumin seeds
- ½ teaspoon black mustard seeds
- ½ teaspoon chili powder
- ½ teaspoon garam masala
- Salt , to taste
- Fresh cilantro , for garnish
- Wash the lentils in a colander until the water runs clear. Drain. Place the lentils in a large pot with the onion, garlic, squash, chickpeas, turmeric, and water. Bring to a boil and skim off any foam, then reduce heat to a low simmer and cook for about 40 minutes, stirring occasionally, until very soft with a puree-like texture.
The spice-infused oil.
- Heat the ghee in a small skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until beginning to brown, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the cumin and mustard seeds, chili powder, and garam masala and immediately cover partially with a lid to keep the mustard seeds from popping out of the skillet. When the mustard seeds start to pop, remove from the heat.
- Pour all the spice-infused oil into the prepared lentil soup and mix well to combine the flavors. Add salt to taste, and cook the soup, stirring, for several minutes. Ladle into bowls and serve garnished with fresh cilantro.
- Adapted from “The Malaysian Kitchen” by Christina Arokiasamy.