Autumnal Indian Soup

My real love for food lies in those dishes pervaded by a sense of warmth and richness, qualities which are epitomised by autumnal cuisine. The idea behind this dish came from a GoodFood recipe entitled Indian Winter Soup. However, it was used more as a guide for what one should do with pearl barley, something I had never cooked before, rather than as a set of defined directions. This meal was simply delicious, so warming and nutritious – this soup really does perfectly encapsulate what autumn, my favourite season, means for my kitchen.

At this time of the year butternut squash, one of my very favourite fruits, comes into season. Despite the unfortunate fact that it smells rather like a pumpkin the butternut squash, when cooked, develops a sweet and nutty flavour perfect for this time of the year. These wondrous fruits are also extremely low in fat and carbohydrates, yet are packed full of vitamins and fibre, which means that they are rather filling and are therefore jolly healthy.

As I mentioned above, this was my first experience of pearl barley, barley which has had its hull and bran removed, which turned out to be a very impressive grain. Once cooked it becomes tender and juicy very much like rice, which is probably the reason it can be used to make risotto – something which I shall attempt in the next few days. Pearl barley is also exceptionally cheap at a mere 68p for 500g, which is enough for five meals for three or four people making it an exceptionally frugal ingredient.

Right from the start I really wanted this dish to be as warming and as satisfying as possible. Caraway seeds, another unfamiliar ingredient, more than any other allowed me to attain this ideal. These little seeds look a little similar to cumin seeds but taste more like a cross between orange peel and aniseed, which made me feel a little as though I should be making mulled wine and not an Indian soup. Anyway, that’s quite enough about ingredients and flavours, please enjoy this delicious autumnal soup.

Autumnal Indian Soup

Serves 3-4


• 1 large onion, finely chopped

• 200-300g butternut squash, fairly large chunks

• 100g pearl barley, rinsed and cooked for 10 minutes beforehand

• 200g split red lentils

• 2-3 tomatoes, chopped

• Knob of ginger

• 2 large cloves of garlic

• 1-2 chillies, depending on taste

• Small handful of fresh coriander

• 2 bay leaves

• 1 tsp cumin

• 1 tsp ground coriander

• ½ tsp ground turmeric

• ½ tsp caraway seeds

• ½ tsp ground cinnamon

• Water

• Oil

• Seasoning


1. Make a paste out of the ginger, garlic, chillies and coriander – this can be done by chopping, or much quicker in a food processor. Fry the dry spices in a little oil until the caraway seeds begin to pop. Add the onion and the fresh paste to the pan and cook for 10-15 minutes.

2. Add the squash, pearl barley, lentils and tomatoes and around a litre of water. Simmer until the squash is tender and the lentils are cooked through. One may need to add a little more water. Serve with a little fresh coriander.

Cost: As they are coming into season a 650g squash costs exactly £1 which makes this dish exceptionally frugal indeed – the entire dish should cost little over £1 to make. This means that each portion comes in at a very tasty 25p. I don’t know about you but I think that’s pretty incredible.

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62 comments on “Autumnal Indian Soup

  1. thekalechronicles
    September 29, 2011 at 2:38 pm

    I’ve never seen this paste-making technique, exactly. The photo was helpful — thanks. — Sharyn

    • frugalfeeding
      October 3, 2011 at 10:43 am

      I don’t know why, but it really does help the flavour. I guess it must release the juices better.

  2. renbuster
    September 29, 2011 at 2:46 pm

    Perfect timing. I brought home a squash and barley earlier this week. Great rainy weather dish.

  3. sportsglutton
    September 29, 2011 at 3:01 pm

    Phenomenal looking recipe and absolutely perfect for this time of year. Cheers!

    • frugalfeeding
      October 3, 2011 at 10:44 am

      Thanks so much! That’s what I was going for 😀

  4. cookinginsens
    September 29, 2011 at 3:03 pm

    I love barley soup and I love yours!

    • frugalfeeding
      October 3, 2011 at 10:44 am

      My first ever barley soup and it was soooo delicious.

  5. Mandy - The Complete Cook Book
    September 29, 2011 at 3:04 pm

    I have not eaten pearl barley for the longest time! It’s great and seriously cheap! Thank you for the reminder, I have just added it to my shopping list. I always thought a butternut was a vegetable – live and learn hey.
    Have a happy day.
    🙂 Mandy

    • frugalfeeding
      October 3, 2011 at 10:44 am

      So, it is so good. I can’t wait to make a risotto out of it.

  6. Megan
    September 29, 2011 at 3:52 pm

    This sounds SO good.

  7. ceciliag
    September 29, 2011 at 5:30 pm

    we are having soup this friday, that is as far as my decision went, but now i think we will have your soup! c

  8. cleaningmyplate
    September 29, 2011 at 6:11 pm

    I was just thinking it was time to pick up some squash. Definitely, now!

  9. Arturo Féliz-Camilo
    September 29, 2011 at 6:32 pm

    Wow, wow and double wow! looks so rich in flavors! What I would do to get a taste!! congrats!

  10. Put Down the Knife
    September 29, 2011 at 6:58 pm

    That looks delicious. I love butternut squash also but it needs some spice to liven it up!

    • frugalfeeding
      October 3, 2011 at 8:44 pm

      Definitely just a little, I love the quality it gives

  11. Flip's Foodie Files
    September 29, 2011 at 7:01 pm

    This looks DELICIOUS! I can’t wait to try this, thanks so much for sharing, and great pictures!

  12. olivia leonard
    September 29, 2011 at 7:41 pm

    Wonderful! Can’t wait to try it–butternut squash is one of my husband’s favorites, so I’m sure he’ll enjoy it as well.

  13. Dalai Lina
    September 29, 2011 at 8:24 pm

    I love all of the spices in that recipe!

  14. maryklein8
    September 29, 2011 at 9:49 pm

    looks amazing! i’m going to try this. we just recently roasted red kuri squash, which is similar! fall is great!

  15. Christine
    September 29, 2011 at 11:12 pm

    Soup looks good.

  16. Jen R
    September 30, 2011 at 12:03 am

    Go the Pearl, have used it this winter in soups as my elderly Aunt has been living witrh me and said she liked it, now I do too!
    I also made us the cheese and garlic scones yesterday….no British tasty he but used Aussie tasty cheese and some parmesan…Yummmo, may I share this recipe with a link back to your site?

  17. Yudith @ Blissfully Delicious
    September 30, 2011 at 1:44 am

    I have been wanting to try cooking barley at home, I must try this sometimes. Thanks for sharing!

  18. Imprint Fitness
    September 30, 2011 at 2:57 am

    Wow, this looks incredible-along with all the other recipes on here! Beautiful photos, as well!

  19. Maysem
    September 30, 2011 at 5:02 am

    Wow, that looks delicious!!! I bought butternut squash today and was looking for a new recipe…I was thinking more so along the lines of a creamy butternut squash soup..but now that I see this recipe I think I shall give this a try:D And I love barley! Thanks for sharing! Also, thanks for stopping by my blog and leaving me a sweet comment…it really was appreciated:) See you around!

    • frugalfeeding
      October 3, 2011 at 8:47 pm

      Please do! Thanks for commenting 🙂 Barley is one of my new favourites.

  20. Karina
    September 30, 2011 at 5:43 am

    So very seasonal! Might just have to make its way into my Canadian Thanksgiving meal this month

  21. dithy846
    September 30, 2011 at 6:09 am

    soupe très consistante ! elle doit bien réchauffer, j’aime beaucoup les épices, de plus elle est de saison, à retenir pour les jours froids

  22. cityhippyfarmgirl
    September 30, 2011 at 11:22 am

    Perfect. I love dishes like this. Wonderful flavours!

  23. Kimby
    September 30, 2011 at 12:40 pm

    Definitely an autumn soup — hearty and heartwarming!

  24. Ashley @ My Food 'N' Fitness Diaries
    September 30, 2011 at 4:48 pm

    YUM. This soup looks fantastic!! Perfect Fall soup.

  25. ambrosiana
    September 30, 2011 at 5:54 pm

    This is a great Fall recipe! I love pearl barley because is such a hearty grain and so nutritious. I always make it Italian style but this Indian version sounds delicious!!

  26. glutenfreezen
    September 30, 2011 at 5:55 pm

    Looks wonderful!

  27. weweremeanttosparkle
    October 1, 2011 at 3:27 pm

    Yum this looks so tasty! I think you just served me an excellent idea for what to have for dinner tonight 😉

  28. spree
    October 1, 2011 at 4:39 pm

    This is a perfectly luscious sounding soup, just right for the season. Thank you for it!

  29. New Covent Garden (@NewCoventGarden)
    October 3, 2011 at 12:16 pm

    Nick this looks astoundingly delicious. Have you considered entering it into our Soup of the Month competition? This month’s theme is ‘recovery’ and this soup has so many antioxidants in it that it makes green tea look suspicious! We’d love for you to enter!

  30. calamityjennie
    October 3, 2011 at 2:12 pm

    this looks wonderful – can’t wait to try it.

  31. accordingtomaria
    October 3, 2011 at 7:05 pm

    This looks wonderful! I might try it with sweet potato instead of squash…

  32. eatingwithoutmeat
    October 5, 2011 at 6:00 pm

    This soup looks delicious and perfect for a chilly Autumn day. I can’t wait to try it so I can repost to my blog–all the credit going to you of course! 🙂

    • frugalfeeding
      October 6, 2011 at 10:32 pm

      It really is incredibly delicious – one of the more satisfying soups I’ve ever made.

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