Recipe: red lentil butternut soup (instant pot)

It’s early December, and we are in the midst of Vata season. In Ayurveda, the seasons are characterized by the doshas – vata, pitta and Kapha. Late fall and early winter are vata season – and have the qualities of dry, cold and light (think of fallen leaves blowing in the wind). Have you noticed the weather is dry and cold? Have your skin and sinuses felt drier? Have you felt more ungrounded than usual lately? That is how the energy of vata manifests in your mind and body.

To balance the dry, cold and ungrounded energy of vata – we use opposites. One way to do this is through the foods we choose to eat. Soups are very balancing to vata as they are moist and warm. Adding heavier ingredients like butternut squash, and healthy fats and proteins, like lentils and coconut milk, are grounding as they balance the lightness of vata.

Don’t be put off my the long ingredient list for this recipe. It comes together quickly, then goes right into your instant pot. You can make the recipe easier by using frozen, precut and peeled butternut squash. You could also choose to not blend your soup after it cooks in the instant pot.

Gather:
2 cups chopped & peeled butternut squash
1 cup red lentils – soaked overnight
1 small onion, chopped
3 stalks celery, chopped
1 clove of garlic, minced
1” of fresh ginger, grated or minced
2 tbsp ghee or coconut oil
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp smoked paprika
1/4 tsp garam masala 
Pinch of black pepper
1 tsp mineral salt
1 quart of broth (vegetable or bone broth)
1 can coconut milk (full fat)
Optional: plain coconut yogurt as topping.

Make:
Set the instant pot on the saute function. Melt the ghee in the pot, then add the onions and celery. Saute, stirring, until the onions are softened, about 5 minutes. Add the ginger, garlic and other spices and saute for 2 minutes. Add the butternut squash and red lentils, stir and cook for 1 minute. Turn off saute function.

Add the broth and salt and put the lid on the instant pot. Set on manual for 30 minutes (on mine I can also use the “soup” button). Sit back and let the instant pot do its thing. After its completed cooking, let it natural release for 5 minutes. Let out the rest of the pressure and add the coconut milk, stir. To make your soup a puree consistency, let it cool a bit then blend in batches. Or, use an immersion blender and blend it right in the instant pot (my preferred way). Optional, top with a dollop of coconut yogurt. Enjoy!

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