I finally went on a full-scale cleaning and organizing mission. I love my kitchen, but I could always use more space– just one more cupboard. The focal point of my organizing was the food pantry. There was a time, not long ago, when I got excited everytime I looked in the pantry– so many possibilities! So many dishes to create! Lately, opening that door just led to me being annoyed. Plastic bags with twist ties, hiding all of those beautiful grains/legumes/dried fruit/and nuts that I buy in bulk. Random boxes half-full of dried pasta. I needed a better system, and mason jars were the answer. They stack beautifully and best of all, I can see all of those beautiful dried goods– including these amazing lentils.
I love lentils: red, french, green, brown– they all have fantastic flavors. Lentils are high protein and fiber and low fat. They’re also convenient, since they don’t take long to prepare, so they’re perfect for when you need to get a quick weeknight dinner on the table. Even better, they’re inexpensive. I like to prepare them with an egg on top (because eggs make everything better), or made into simple, flavorful soups like this one. They’re brilliant!
The flavors in this lentil soup mingle perfectly. The ginger, curry, cardamom, and cumin are stand-outs. They give the soup an identity. And the lemongrass adds that little zing that really brightens things up. Depending on where you are, lemongrass may be difficult to find. If so, just add a bit of lemon zest and a healthy squirt of lemon juice before serving. The coconut milk is the backbone here, it ties all of the other wonderful flavors together. It is rich and creamy, and envelopes those warm spices. I use a whole can in this recipe, but if you want to reduce the calorie count, add just a half can. If you do so, make sure to compensate for the loss of liquid by adding a bit more broth or water. And don’t buy the ‘lite’ versions of coconut milk– they’re not particularly good. Pair this soup with a nice piece of crusty bread drizzled in olive oil, and enjoy!
The Recipe: Lentil Soup with Lemongrass and Ginger
(Serves 4 comfortably)
5-6 small/medium carrots, chopped (1 1/4 cup)
1 medium red onion, chopped (about 1 cup)
1 stalk lemongrass, outer leaves removed and discarded, finely minced
1-inch knob of ginger, peeled and minced
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup crushed tomatoes
1 1/2 cup dried brown or green lentils, rinsed
1 can (13.5 ounces) organic coconut milk
1 tablespoon curry powder
1 teaspoon cardamom
1 quart organic chicken broth
pinch of salt
lemon, cilantro, and sour cream for garnish, optional
In a large Dutch oven placed over medium heat add the olive oil. When hot add the carrots, red onion, lemon grass, ginger, a sprinkle of salt and sauté for about 7- 10 minutes until the vegetables start to soften. Then add the curry powder and cardamom and toast for just 30 seconds, or so. Immediately add the tomatoes, chicken stock, coconut milk, and lentils. Raise heat and bring to a small boil. Immediately lower heat to low/medium and cook the soup covered for about 20-30 minutes, or until the lentils are your desired consistency. The amount of time will vary depending upon how high your flame is. Taste the soup and adjust salt accordingly. Take note that this is a soup that will thicken as it sits, so leftovers may need a splash of broth or water to loosen it up. Serve with sour cream, cilantro, and lemon, if desired, and a drizzle of olive oil. Enjoy!
Have a wonderful weekend!
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