By Chef Linda
Soup is always in season. Thick, hearty, stick-to-your-ribs versions in the colder months and light, garden-fresh ones when the weather is warm. But what about that in between time when the seasons are shifting? Days are heating up, but there's still a distinct chilliness to the air. That's when Coconut Curry Red Lentil Soup can work its magic.
Coconut seems to be the yin to curry's yang. Thick, rich and full of soothing creaminess, coconut milk balances the heady spiciness and heat of the curry flavors. (You can use individual spices listed below or buy curry powder to replace them. Start with one tablespoon of pre-mixed curry powder and add more if you choose.) Full of protein from quick-cooking red lentils, this soup can make for a complete dinner that leaves you satisfied, not stuffed. Not only a feast for the appetite, Coconut Curry Red Lentil Soup is also appealing to the eye. Rich golden orange is the backdrop to bright red pieces of pepper and deep green spinach. Soups like this are perfect to make when spring is emerging from its slumber or when summer is looking over its shoulder to say goodbye.
Coconut Curry Red Lentil Soup
1 tablespoon coconut oil (or other oil if you prefer)
2 large garlic cloves, minced
1 medium onion, chopped
1 teaspoon salt
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 (2-inch piece) fresh ginger, peeled and grated
2 teaspoons turmeric
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon dry mustard
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 (14 ounce) can diced tomatoes
4 cups vegetable broth, more if desired
1 1/2 cups red lentils, rinsed and drained
1 (14 ounce) can full fat coconut milk
2 handfuls baby spinach
Dash of maple syrup
A few sprigs of cilantro, for garnish
Heat coconut oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add garlic, onion, and salt. Cook, while stirring frequently, for about 5 minutes, until onion begins to turn translucent. Add in the pepper, ginger, turmeric, cumin, coriander, mustard, black pepper, and cayenne. Cook for a few minutes more, until pepper softens and spices become fragrant.
Stir in the can of tomatoes, broth, and lentils. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and then simmer, uncovered, for about 20 to 25 minutes, until lentils are tender. Add coconut milk and stir, then add spinach and a dash of maple syrup. Cook for several minutes, then remove from heat. Serve garnished with cilantro.