February 28, 2011
Solace in a Soup
Start. Stop. Start. Stop.
I've started writing here 3 times now, and each time I've had to abandon the draft. I'm drowning in school, work and a weekend trip up to Tahoe, and let me tell you this gray winter weather isn't helping whatsoever. If it's not braving the rain on a Saturday morning open air market then it's rain turning into hail turning into white out snow conditions preventing the last leg of a trip to a Tahoe cabin. Of course it's all worth it in the end - to come home with handfuls of the freshest farm produce or to finally arrive to a snow covered winter wonderland after a 6 hour drive - it's just that I can't help longing for a break.
And for that, there's this lentil soup. Thick with red lentils and yellow split peas, rich with (light) coconut milk, toasted curry powder and tomato paste and just a hint of surprise with the addition of sauteed golden raisins. It takes under an hour to make, almost all of which your kitchen will be filled with the sultry smells of toasting spices and and an amazing buttery sizzling combination of ginger, green onions and golden raisins. And that wary look you have on your face about the raisins, abandon it, their sweet juicy bits in the soup are entirely perfect. It's great the first night, even better the next and it freezes like a dream.
Coconut Curry Lentil Soup
Adapted from 101 Cookbooks
Aside from adding in a little extra diced carrot, I didn't really change a thing, it was perfect as is. If you don't intend to eat it right away, or imagine that you'll have leftovers for the next day or to freeze, I would suggest cutting each raisin in half. They tend to soak up a lot of liquid and become surprisingly large after a while. Plus, when you cut them up, you'll get more spoonfuls with raisins in them, and they're the best ones.
1 cup yellow split peas
1 cup red lentils
7 cups water
2 medium carrots, cut into 1/2-inch dice
2 tablespoons fresh peeled and minced ginger
2 tablespoons curry powder
2 tablespoons butter or ghee
8 green onions, thinly sliced
1/3 cup golden raisins
1/3 cup tomato paste
1 14-ounce can light coconut milk
2 teaspoons sea salt
one small handful cilantro, chopped
Give the split peas and lentils a good rinse - until they no longer put off murky water. Place them in an extra-large soup pot, cover with the water, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and add the carrot and 1/4 of the ginger. Cover and simmer for about 30 minutes, or until the split peas are soft.
In the meantime, in a small dry skillet or saucepan over low heat, toast the curry powder until it is quite fragrant. Be careful though, you don't want to burn the curry powder, just toast it. Set aside. Place the butter in a pan over medium heat, add half of the green onions, the remaining ginger, and raisins. Saute for two minutes stirring constantly, then add the tomato paste and saute for another minute or two more.
Add the toasted curry powder to the tomato paste mixture, mix well, and then add this to the simmering soup along with the coconut milk and salt. Simmer, uncovered, for 20 minutes or so. The texture should thicken up, but you can play around with the consistency if you like by adding more water, a bit at a time. Serve topped with a generous amount of the remaining sliced green onions and some chopped cilantro leaves.