This soup is a variation on “kitcharee” (also spelled kitchari and kichadi), a nourishing soup from the Indian Ayurvedic healing tradition. In Ayurveda, dishes like this one are recommended for supporting your digestive system and helping with detoxification. It also happens to be just the thing to have when you’ve indulged too much during the holidays.
This soup takes advantage of healthy homemade chicken or turkey stock, as well as seasonally available butternut squash. Feel free to keep it vegetarian by using vegetable stock. You also can use different vegetables, if you prefer.
This recipe makes a spicy stew, but you can make it less so by cutting down on the amount of spices. The coconut milk is optional. If you choose not to use it, I suggest garnishing each bowl of soup with a dollop of plain yogurt.
- 1 cup split and hulled mung beans
- 1 tbsp. organic coconut oil, organic ghee (Indian clarified butter), or olive oil
- 1 onion, peeled and diced
- 3 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
- 1 tbsp. fresh ginger, minced
- 1 Serrano or other hot chile pepper (seeded for a less spicy stew)
- 6 cups homemade turkey, chicken or vegetable stock or water
- 2 cups peeled, seeded and cubed butternut squash (or peeled and diced white or sweet potato and/or parsnips)
- 1-2 large carrot, chopped
- 2 cups Swiss chard, collard greens, or kale, tough stems removed, and then chopped
- 2-3 tsp. brown sugar
- 2-3 tsp. garam masala
- 1/2 tsp. turmeric
- 1 can of organic unsweetened whole coconut milk — optional
- 1/2 tsp. sea salt, or to taste (the amount of salt needed will depend on how salty your stock is)
- Run cold water over mung beans in a colander. Drain and set aside.
- Warm oil or ghee in a large pot. Add onion, garlic, ginger and chile pepper and saute until fragrant. Add stock or water.
- Add the mung beans and the squash, then add the rest of the vegetables and the spices. Stir well to combine all the ingredients and bring to a boil.
- Reduce heat to a simmer and cook for 45 minutes to 1 hour, stirring occasionally, and adding more liquid if it becomes too thick. Remove from heat when everything is soft and cooked through.
- Add coconut milk, if using. Stir well to combine and heat through.
- Add salt, taste, and adjust seasonings before serving.
Winnie Abramson writes the organic gardening and food blog Healthy Green Kitchen.
Photo credit: Winnie Abramson