Coconut Lentil Soup with Fragrant Spices
One of my favorite indoor ways to let down from a busy day, is to read food magazines. It’s a great opportunity to mentally “taste” new recipes without the calories or effort. It also stimulates inspiration and ideas for our food blog, and for entertaining.
This unusual soup came from one of my mental food crawls. It had good bones but I’ve altered it to my taste. It contains the fragrant spices of garam masala and can be as spicy as you’d like — or not. If you don’t have or can’t find garam masala use curry powder, but I think it’s worth investing in some garam masala if possible as it gives the soup a more authentic Indian flavor and it encourages you to experiment with other Indian recipes if you’re so inclined. Also, if you can’t find red lentils, substitute another small, fast cooking lentil variety.
Both filling and warming, this soup is a perfect antidote for windy, chilly, wet, or snowy days. And, although it contains no sweeteners, the coconut oil and milk, along with the vanilla, offer sweet undertones. Naam or chapatis would be the ideal side, but you could use any delicious flat bread, warm buttered toast or maybe a luxurious, crunchy grilled cheese.
- 2 tablespoons virgin coconut oil
- 1 large onion, chopped, medium dice
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 3-inch piece of ginger, peeled and grated
- 1 - 3 teaspoons garam masala, or to taste (may substitute curry powder)
- 1 13-1/2 ounce can of full-fat coconut milk
- 1 package vegetable stock or 5 cups water
- 1 cup split red lentils
- 1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
- 4 - 6 ounces of fresh baby spinach or blend of power greens
- 1 15 ounce can crushed tomatoes
- salt and black or white pepper, to taste
- splash or two of soy or tamari sauce
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Fresh whole milk or non-dairy yogurt (optional)
- In a medium soup pot or Dutch oven, heat coconut oil over medium-high heat until it shimmers. Add onion, stirring occasionally, until the onions are transparent and beginning to turn slightly golden about 6 - 8 minutes. Add garlic and ginger and cook an additional 5 minutes, stirring as necessary to keep the ingredients from browning or sticking.
- Add garam masala or curry powder, coating onions, ginger and garlic, being careful not to burn ingredients. Cook for 1 minute. Add coconut milk and stir well so that spices are loosened, then add lentils, coconut, crushed tomatoes and juice, and vegetable stock or water. Bring the ingredients to a boil, then lower heat to medium-low and allow soup to simmer. Stir occasionally until the lentils are cooked and soup has thickened, about 25 - 30 minutes. Add additional water if soup is too thick for your taste.
- Add baby spinach or power greens and stir until the spinach becomes limp and starts to blend in well with the soup. Add soy or tamari then season to taste with salt and pepper. Turn off the heat, stir in vanilla, and allow soup to rest until you are ready to serve it. Reheat before serving if necessary.
- Ladle soup into bowls and add a spoonful of yogurt or serve it on the side.(optional)
- Make this soup a day ahead if you have the time. It will develop more flavor overnight.