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.
SPICED LENTIL SOUP WITH COCONUT MILK // Serves 6
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.