Hello my dears! I trust you all had a good start to the week? Apologies if the absence of a Little Bits made for a less than stellar Monday, I was occupied by driving my little brother to college in Portland! He is a fantastic pen and ink artist, and is attending Pacific Northwest College of Art. I am one proud big sis.
It was rather a long day, with about a three hour drive each way and two ferry boat rides. Needless to say, as we rolled into the driveway I was feeling less like cooking an extravagant dinner and more like cuddling up on the couch.
There are few things that fit hand in hand with a rainy Northwest winter than soup. Full of hearty lentils, this particular soup was just the thing for a sleepy, homey evening, and a lagging chef.
The flavors of this soup are well balanced and incredibly nuanced for such an easy recipe. The earthy aroma of lentils, the spicy bite of ginger, the rich decadence of coconut milk, and the sweet pop of pulped-up raisins complement each other perfectly.
I used tikka masala in place of traditional curry powder, which I highly recommend. If you do choose another variety be sure to sample and play with the addition or omission of the other spices. My recipe is an adaptation of this one from the wonderful Heidi over at 101 Cookbooks. Can’t wait for her new cookbook to come out!
Curried Red Lentil and Coconut Soup
- 2 cups red split lentils
- 7 cups water
- 1 medium carrot, quartered and diced
- 3 Tbsp fresh peeled and minced ginger
- 2 Tbsp curry powder
- 2 Tbsp butter or ghee
- 1 medium onion or 8 green onions, thinly sliced (onion quartered first)
- 1/3 cup golden raisins (but really any variety works)
- 1/3 cup tomato paste
- 1 14-oz can coconut milk
- 1 tsp ground cayenne
- 1/2 tsp ground turmeric
- one good-sized bunch cilantro, chopped
- Sea salt to taste
Rinse the lentils, agitating and changing the water until it runs clear. Transfer the lentils to a large soup pot, add the water, cover and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer, and add the carrot and the ginger. Cover and simmer for about 30 minutes, or until the lentils are soft and much of the water has been absorbed.
While you wait, toast the curry powder in a dry skillet over low heat until it becomes quite fragrant, but take care not to burn it. Transfer to a small dish and set aside. Heat the butter in a pan (perhaps the same skillet for fewer dishes?) over medium heat. Add the onions, and saute until very tender. Add the raisins and saute, stirring, for a few more minutes. Add the tomato paste and saute for another minute or two more.
Mix the toasted curry powder into the tomato paste mixture, and then stir into the soup along with the coconut milk until a fairly uniform color is reached. Season with salt and the remaining spices. Simmer gently, uncovered, to thicken, for perhaps about 20 minutes. Stir in the cilantro a few minutes before serving, leaving a bit aside for garnish. As with most soups and stews, this soup will continue to improve in flavor for a few days and can be easily reheated to enjoy again. If the texture becomes too thick, add a splash of water to thin.
Serves about 6.