It is not fall in my pocket of the world. Summer is still lingering with warm ocean water, people in shorts and tank dresses and tomatoes at the farm stand. Sure there are pumpkins at the market and the sun sets earlier but those are the only telling signs the season is changing. The weather makes me crave salad and fruit, but a big pot of soup intrigued me for some emotional reason. I feel a bit drained lately, and there is something about soup that is comforting. Just a bowl and spoon. No stabbing bits of lettuce or cutting with a knife. Just simple eating. The kitchen is a place of solace for me - a place to be creative, to give, to appreciate small things, to refresh or to be pointed towards something in myself that I haven't taken the time to recognize. And in this case, that awareness came from wanting to make a pot of warm soup on a 97' day. I knew when I saw this soup on The Travelers Lunchbox that I would make it and like it. At first taste, it seemed all the spices didn't marry, but after a bit of sitting in its own goodness, my mouth was filled with warmth, spice, a bit of heat and lentils just tender to the tooth. I garnished it with some toasted coconut because I'm a sucker for a nice garnish, but this is certainly optional. The recipe makes a good portion of soup, which is not inconvenient because it is actually better the next day. So, maybe you're wearing a sweater or maybe you're still in shorts, but soup is never a bad idea.


Recipe adapted from The Travelers Lunchbox who adapted it from Once Upon a Tart

The recipe calls for green lentils. I used a mixture because I have a large amount of them and they worked just fine. Split or red lentils will likely get too mushy here. I used 4 cups broth because I like my soups on the stewy side, if you prefer more broth to you soup, add another cup or two when cooking the lentils.

1 1/2 cup lentils, rinsed (green suggested)

4 cups low sodium vegetable broth

1 1/2 tsp. tumeric OR curry powder

2 tsp. dried thyme or 1 Tbsp fresh thyme leaves

1 Tbsp. coconut oil

1 large yellow onion, diced

2 stalks lemongrass, outer layer removed, lower portion finely minced

1 tsp. sea salt, plus more to taste

1/2 tsp. cardamom

1/2 tsp. cinnamon pinch of red pepper flakes to taste

pinch of fresh grated nutmeg

1 1/4 cup coconut milk (use full fat, just believe me)

3 Tbsp. lemon, lime or orange juice

a few handfuls of swiss chard, spinach or kale

1 cup flake coconut, toasted (optional)

chopped cilantro, for garnish (optional)

Add the rinsed lentils, broth, thyme and tumeric or curry powder to a large pot. Bring to a boil, turn down to a simmer and cook for about 20 minutes.

While the lentils cook, heat the coconut oil in a pan. Add the onion and saute until just browned. Add the lemongrass, salt, cardamom, cinnamon, pinch of red pepper flakes and some fresh ground nutmeg and saute another minute. Add the onion mixture to the lentils and stir, keeping the heat on a low simmer.

Add the coconut milk and greens and simmer another five minutes, stirring occasionally until just wilted. Taste for salt and spice and add as you prefer. Finish with the citrus juice and serve warm with toasted coconut flakes and cilantro on top.

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Reader Comments (100)

Just lovely for any time of year.

October 3, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKathryn

This soup has so many wonderful flavors in it, and the toasted coconut garnish is inspired. My car thermometer read 105 yesterday, if it cools down I am making this soup!

ugggh, all I can think about is making soup, but it was 100 degrees out yesterday!! I'll hang onto this until my family won't think I'm crazy. Loving your cookbook, by the way.

October 3, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterNikki

Yes indeed: soup is never a bad idea! I, too, am trying to will autumn into existence despite the hot days. ;)

October 3, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterStacy

It almost looks like a curry from back home — not quite dal because of the coconut milk but very close. I can have soup regardless of the temperature. So what if it's a billion degrees?! I'm crazy! Spinach, chicken noodle and seafood chowder are favourites.

October 3, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterEdlyn

that looks sweet and satisfying. i want to cook that tonight!! if only it were a cold soup... it's too hot here.

just started a blog of my own and i LOVE your pictures :)

October 3, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterwendy

I know where you can go for some legit soup weather. :) I think I've already made Gabe's limit on soup (he's not a huge fan) but I could keep on going all season long. Especially lentils - and your's look so beautiful. I wish I could come share a bowl.

October 3, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAshley

That looks very beautiful. Great way to use greens and lentils!

October 3, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterrachel

Oh yes - this will be made soon! It's soup weather in my part of Canada. Hugh's photos kill me! I love the first diptych with the dark teal colour in the lentils and cutting board.

October 3, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterLydia Webber

Totally loving this recipe - gorgeous photos, and looks really delicious. I bet it would make a great lunchbox meal! :)

October 3, 2012 | Unregistered Commentersara

Can't wait for cooler weather and to try this recipe! My daughter loves soup!
Just ordered your cookbook and can't wait til it gets here :0)

October 3, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterChris

Looks delicious! I'm curious about the option for turmeric or curry powder. Do the finished soups come out very different? Thanks ; )

October 3, 2012 | Unregistered Commentermandy

Girl, you make ordinary onions look pretty.
And, the final product looks irresistible!

October 3, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterColette @ JFF!

That looks beautiful.........where do you get your coconut flakes ...I am assuming unsweetened????

October 3, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMarianne

I need to make this!

October 3, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterPurely Michelle

Oh my. I would love a bowl (or two) of this delicious soup!! Love coconut milk in soups!

October 3, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKiran @

The unique flavors in the soup are phenomenal. I tend to not just eat soup alone so do you have a recommendation for pairing it with something else?

October 3, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterZach

Soup is certainly never a bad idea. We're experiencing an unusual heat wave here in SF (85 degrees! warm nights!). But, for those emotional reasons you speak of, I've been cooking Fall-like. Sorry to hear you're feeling drained - hopefully you have some restful days ahead. xo

October 3, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKasey

This looks lovely. I can't buy lemongrass here in rural Portugal and so far my attempts to grow it haven't been very successful.Can anyone suggest a good substitute. thanks.

October 3, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterfonte

I've been really into coconut-based curries lately. This sounds like a great, hearty soup to soothe my craving!

October 3, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDiane, Abroad

As much as I love the sunshine, I am struggling a bit with the summer like weather. It's not all that different in my old hometown, but I know Seattle will soon cloud over and cool down and it will still be warm and sunny here for the foreseeable future. I know I will love it in January but I love fall, for soups especially, and am hoping we get a bit of one. This intrigues me - thyme in a coconut milk soup? Lemongrass? Need to try it. Love the garnish.

October 3, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDana

Sounds wonderful and plan to try it tonight! I happen to have all the ingredients in my kitchen and was just wondering what I could possibly do with a bunch of lentils and coconut milk together. I searched for "sprouted kitchen lentil" and your newest recipe popped up! Thanks for the inspiration.

October 3, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterSara

I just made this tonight after reading the post - delicious and very cost effective, love that about soups. mine turned out a little greener in color than yours (possibly the spinach i added in addition to collards?) but still looks pretty similar. couldn't get my hands on any lemongrass on short notice but i just added some lemon zest into the pot.

October 3, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterlindsay

This looks so tasty and colorful!

October 3, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterSarah

Lentil soup is one of my favorites! This one looks and sounds amazing!

oh, sara! you lovely thing.
i've been devouring soup at an alarming rate, just cannot get enough of the stuff. and although i'm not usually a lentil soup person, it seems to suit me, this fall. i ate nigel slater's lentil soup for two weeks, and am just gearing up for maddhur jaffrey's mulligatawny. but she might just have to get in line behind you, because oh, does this ring my bell.
also? it's never too warm for soup.

October 3, 2012 | Unregistered Commentermolly

I make a similar version of this soup almost every other week according to a recipe I found in Heidi Swanson's book. I'm so curious to try this one though; I really like the idea of using lime and swiss chard!

October 4, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMike

Fresh and vibrant, this could make a brilliant lunch!

October 4, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterthecitygourmand

I love this recipe! I've used coconut milk as gravy for lentils before but I love the lemongrass, turmeric and cardamom additions. Plus the toasted coconut flakes look sooo great as garnish. Great recipe!

October 4, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterVinita

Beautiful! I trust you on the full-fat coconut milk--it makes everything SO good :)

October 4, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDessertForTwo

We've had really unusually warm weather around here too, but for the last couple weeks soup and stew have been made several times a week. I love a good lentil soup, this one sounds perfect!

October 4, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJacqui

You're right. Soup is never, ever, a bad idea. I hope you have a few minutes, moments, or days to recharge, my friend. xo

October 4, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterkelsey

My goodness, this looks wonderful! I love the combination of pumpkin & coconut-- so warming & inviting for this time of year. As someone who's climate has just changed to be slightly chilly, I think I'll be warming up with a bowl of this soon!

October 4, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterSara @ The Cozy Herbivore

This looks amazing! I can't wait to try making it. YUM!

October 4, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJess

I'm so cooking this tonight. Thank you!!

October 4, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJen

I,m going to have a go at this, right now, who cares about the westher....

October 4, 2012 | Unregistered Commentermeg, eltham. aust

that looks amazing!!

October 4, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterCrista

Agreed! Love this. Coming down with a cold today, and wishing I could teleport this from your kitchen to mine.

October 4, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKimberley

Luckily, it's already quite cool here in Switzerland. I love all the ingredients of this soup alone, so I'm quite sure, I'll be cooking this soup very soon :) Thank you for the recipe!


October 5, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterLaura

This soup sounds lovely!

This looks stunning! I'm dying over how pretty those multi colored lentils are...

You're right, I'm wearing a sweater one day, shorts the next, but have somehow still been in the mood for soup :)

October 5, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJeanine

It was a beautiful 80 degree day here in Washington, DC today. But I already had my heart set on Friday night soup. I tossed a cheese pizza in the oven for my boys, ages 7 and 4. And you know what? Given the choice between cheese pizza and this soup, my 7 year old went for the soup, proclaimed it amazing and ate another bowl. Exact words, "This soup isn't too sour and it isn't too sweet. It's just perfect." And right he is. Thanks, Sara! We've got a new winner in the rotation.

October 5, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAlicia Sokol

This soup IS amazing. I just made a pot to have for later this week. Sara claims it will be better tomorrow, but that is hard to imagine!

October 6, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterkim snedden

Made this last night for dinner. It was so good! Very quick prep, perfect for a weeknight meal. Thanks, Sara!

October 7, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterColu

I am cozied up in booties and a sweater now, and this soup looks just right. Love the combination all those complex flavors in one bowl.

October 7, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKathryne

I just made peas and lentils soup yesterday (days are hot but evenings are cool where I am, and it rained for the first time today) and chicken soup is planned for the weekend but I'll give this a try nest week.

October 8, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterElle

Ummm...yum. Dancing in the kitchen with my boy tonight!

October 8, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterdina

This soup is delicious. I realized halfway through making it that I didn't have any cardamom or nutmeg (poor planning I know!) so I used a 1/2 teaspoon of coriander and a 1/2 teaspoon of cumin. I thought it worked well.

October 8, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterSuzanne

I made this wonderul soup on Saturday and it is now my absolute fave! Thanks so much for sharing this.

October 8, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterSonia

What a very unusual and creative flavor for lentils. I always have jars of lentils in my pantry and coconut milk as well. Can't wait to try this.

October 8, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterGwen @SimplyHealthyFamily

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