1Preheat oven to 425-degrees. Place rack in the top third of the oven. Cut the squash in half and remove the seeds. Oil and salt the squash and roast cut side down (in a rimmed baking pan) with the 1/2 cup water poured into the pan. Roast until tender, about 35 to 45 minutes. When cool enough, scoop out cooked squash and set aside.
2In the meantime, in a medium saucepan, combine the lentils, ginger, star anise and water. Simmer until tender, about 30 minutes. Add 1 teaspoon salt.
3In a large stockpot combine the olive oil, onion, leeks, fennel and additional salt. Cook covered over low heat until vegetables soften, about 7 - 10 minutes.
Remove the star anise and ginger coins from the lentil sauce pan, then add the lentils, lentil broth and squash to the vegetables in the stock pot. Stir well and cook for another 15 minutes or so, allowing the flavors to blend. Taste and adjust the seasoning here with more salt if needed, and in my case I used a few generous pinches of red pepper flakes as well.
4Serve as is, or topped with lots of garlicky homemade croutons.*
*For the croutons I simply ripped up the remainder of a day-old loaf of French bread into tiny shreds, doused it in olive oil, garlic, and a bit of salt, and toasted it in the oven until golden and crunchy - I think the oven was set to 375 at the time.