Coconut and Green Lentil Soup

I like legumes. I make dal quite often and we do like our lentil soup. Recently I found a recipe on this lovely blog (enjoy her soup picture; it's beautiful) which looked spectacular.  And it was! It's so fast and easy, and adaptable! It's a refreshing update to the flavors of my current dal. It's a bit curry-y, but lighter; and spicy, and  so warm and fragrant . . . you'll just have to try it. I loved the coconut milk and the just-soft-enough green lentils, but most amazing of all was the blend of spices: cardamom (one of my favorite spices), turmeric, cinnamon, cloves. The carmelizing onions and the simmering lentils and the spices in the hot butter made the house smell AMAZING. While I was in Seattle I stopped at a spice store and I went around sniffing everything happily before picking out several new things to try. One of things I got was some qualat daqqua (Tunisian 5-spice), which smelled right for the job, so I threw some of that in as well.

I made my soup quite thick, and cooked the lentils slightly softer, for logistical reasons (i.e. to make feeding baby-mouths easier). You could probably use more broth if you like a thinner soup. Also, this would be awesome served with naan, but any bread works well for dipping (I used my regular wheat bread this time). I'm sure it would be good with yogurt (like I serve our lentil soup) as well.

Coconut and Green Lentil Soup
(adapted from The Traveler's Lunchbox version of this book's recipe)

2 1/4 cups green lentils (or brown lentils)
9 cups vegetable or chicken broth
A few sprigs of fresh thyme
1 1/2 teaspoons turmeric
3 tablespoons butter
1 large onion, diced
1 teaspoon cardamom

1 teaspoon qalat daqqa (optional, of course)
1/2 teaspoon cloves
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
a pinch of freshly-ground nutmeg
2 14-oz cans coconut milk, or to taste 

Combine the broth, lentils, turmeric, and thyme in a large soup pot. Bring to a boil, then turn heat to low and simmer for 20-30 minutes or until lentils are as soft as you want them.

When lentils are about half-done cooking (or 10-15 minutes from when you think they'll be done), melt butter in a small skillet on high. (For extra flavor, let it cook till it foams and browns a bit before adding onions.) Add diced onion and cook for a couple minutes on high; then turn down heat and cook over medium-low heat for 10-15 minutes, until onion begins to brown and caramelize. Add spices and fry for just 30 seconds or until spices are very aromatic. Scrape skillet contents into the big pot, add coconut milk, and simmer for a few more minutes to allow flavors to blend.

Serve with naan or bread for dipping.
(Hi, tiny spoon-Marilyn!)

1 comment

  1. You give these instructions as though we all know how to do all this, smell all this, have the same sense of rightness about what we'll be doing. The only thing I can relate to has to do with the fact that I am now cooking everything in coconut oil so that my brain won't fall prey to plaques and dithering. The soup sounds wonderful. The bread smells wonderful.

    But I ate subway tonight. That is my life.


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