Butternut Dal Soup

This butternut dal soup is thick, creamy, and perfectly comforting on a cold fall or winter evening. Eat it as a hearty soup, or add more veggies and serve over rice like a curry dish. Either way, you are bound to enjoy the fragrant flavors!

Butternut Dal Soup_4

I haven’t gushed yet about our Africa trip, so I guess there is no time like the present. There is so much to say that it is hard to figure out where to start…so I’m going to start backwards. We spent the first week checking out the African animals in the Kenyan wild, and the second week exploring the African sea life on the island of Zanzibar.

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We had a whole week on the beach in Nungwi area of Zanzibar, which was quite a treat. Since we had so much time, we decided it was the perfect opportunity to learn how to Scuba dive. We signed up for the Padi Open Water Certification and off we went learning about BCD’s, underwater hand signals, emergency ascents, releasing pressure from our ears, etc. After two days of videos, written tests, and pool tests, we hit the open water for our four training dives.


All was fine and dandy until we were 15 feet under and had to practice our underwater skills again. I managed everything fine in pool water the day before, but then again I could see the surface two feet above me. The first skills test was to flood our mask halfway with water and clear it out. Jon went- no problems, of course. I went and flooded it a tiny bit and cleared it. Well, my tiny bit wasn’t good enough so the teacher flooded the mask for me.

Enter freak out mode.

I got water up my nose, I started coughing, heart pounding, panic attack happening, all while trying to get the water out of my mask. Holy sh*t. That was scary. I took huge breaths to try to calm myself down and made Jon hold my hand underwater like a baby. But guess what? I didn’t surface. Major accomplishment. I finished the dive but had three more to do. Crap. I was mentally scarred and was not looking forward to what was to come.

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I somehow managed to survive the mask flooding during the second dive, but I went back to the hotel feeling defeated and worried about the final day, when you had to take the mask completely off, put it back on, and clear the water out of it. I slept terribly that night and woke up to a sore jaw from all the teeth grinding that went on. Thank goodness for my sexy mouth guard.

Before the last two dives, I was freaking out and told Jon I couldn’t do it. He reminded me that I’d already done enough to be a “junior diver” so he suggested that I should forget about completing the full certification and just enjoy the dives. I agreed and felt a huge weight lift off my shoulders. I was just going to dive for fun and try my bestest to enjoy being underwater.


Well the sun was shining, and as we descended, I could already see some beautiful fish near the reef. I think this helped me forget my worries, and I calmed down enough to do the final test. I took my mask off, put it back on, and cleared the water out like a champ. We then proceeded to have the most amazing dive; we swam with a huge school of fish and saw the most colorful underwater creatures up close and personal. Being weightless allowed me to feel like I was flying and all worries I had before were lost. I finally figured out what diving is all about. (Unfortunately, no pictures were allowed during our test to show you!)


To celebrate, I bought myself a nice bottle of wine and hit up the “African Corner” of the buffet line for some comfort food after my two days of nerves. Let’s be honest, I was there pretty much everyday, tasting every curry dish I could get my hands on. I didn’t realize the Indian cuisine influence in Africa, but I was happily surprised to get to try so many different dishes that I don’t make often at home.

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So when we got home from our trip (feeling accomplished and relaxed), I immediately started whipping up curry and lentil dishes. This butternut dal soup is my favorite newest addition. I’ve already made it three times in a month and it is officially in the winter soup rotation.

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It so simple. You saute the onions and garlic. Add the spices for a minute before adding in the rest of the ingredients. Simmer for 25 minutes, or until everything is nice and soft. 

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Puree and serve.

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Karibu sana! (That means you are very welcome for giving you a delicious new recipe).

Butternut Dal Soup
Serves 4
This butternut dal soup is thick, creamy, and perfectly comforting on a cold fall or winter evening.
Write a review
Total Time
35 min
Total Time
35 min
  1. 1 medium onion, diced
  2. 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  3. 1 tablespoon ghee or extra virgin olive oil
  4. 1 teaspoon garam masala
  5. ½ teaspoon turmeric
  6. ½ teaspoon cumin
  7. ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  8. ½ teaspoon coriander
  9. ½ teaspoon ground ginger
  10. ½ butternut squash, diced (roughly 4 cups // 400 grams)
  11. 4 cups // 1L chicken or vegetable broth
  12. 1 cup // 250 mL water
  13. 1 ½ cups // 300 grams red lentils, rinsed
  14. 1 bay leaf
  15. salt and pepper to taste
  1. Melt the ghee in a large pot. Saute the onions in the ghee until almost translucent, then add the garlic. Saute for one more minute and then add the spices. Stir and cook for 1 minute. Add the butternut squash, broth, water, lentils, and bay leaf. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Let the soup simmer for 20-25 minutes, or until the squash and lentils are very soft. Take out the bay leaf and puree the soup with an immersion blender. Add salt and pepper according to taste.
  2. Alternatively, if you like a chunkier soup, place 1-2 cups of the soup mixture in a bowl and set it aside. Puree the rest of the soup and add the bowl contents back into the pureed soup. Serve hot!
  1. *Use olive oil and vegetable broth for a vegan option
Caitlin Ball https://caitlinball.com/

9 Responses

  1. You are much braver than I am. I certainly would have given up after the first scare. Wait! I’m too scared to even think about trying to dive.

  2. I am so impressed at your scuba adventure! Whenever I think of scuba I think of the movie Along Came Polly (haha… just me??) This soup looks so delicious, butternut squash is my favorite and I love soups real with substance like this one!

    1. haha I love that movie! But I always think of a ferret on a leash when I think of Along came polly 🙂 I’m sure you will love this soup them- more like a stew!

  3. This looks delicious! Where do you think is the best place to get garam masala? I have never heard of it before.

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