‘Tis the season for excessive overabundance, especially when it comes to all things food. Don’t get us wrong, we love all of the feasting around the holidays, but we also welcome the uncomplicated culinary moments such as the joy of a simple bowl of lentil soup.
Healthy and hearty, spicy and straightforward, frugal and fragrant in equal measure, Curried Lentil, Tomato and Coconut Soup is the antidote to all of those rich meals and snacking in between. This is just the sort of soup that can be made without schlepping to the supermarket (unless of course you need coconut milk), or breaking the bank for pricey ingredients. Plus, when your capacity for preparing elaborate meals has lost it’s appeal, this soup even ticks off a lot of “free-from” boxes: meat-free, dairy-free, gluten-free, but most of all guilt-free.
Why not make a batch a few days before the parties begin again in earnest,? Then you’ll have some on hand to prepare for the upcoming indulgences or to soothe once you’ve reached the other side. Hint: it can be kept in the fridge for 3 days and can also be frozen. Nutty and earthy in flavor, lentils have a high nutritional value that anyone can benefit from by incorporating this healthy legume into their diet.
Of all legumes and nuts, lentils contain the third-highest levels of protein. Twenty-six percent of lentil’s calories are attributed to protein, which makes them a wonderful source of protein for vegetarians and vegans. Although lentils include numerous beneficial nutrients like fiber, protein, minerals and vitamins, they are still low in calories and contain virtually no fat.
We tend to keep brown lentils on hand because they don’t break down as readily as the yellow or red varieties. Just be aware, they need to cook longer—in this case 45-50 minutes as opposed to 20-25 minutes as the directions indicate. This recipe calls for medium curry powder, but it’s flexible. If the one you have is mild or very spicy, adjust the heat level with more, or less, red pepper flakes. It definitely has a kick which is tempered by the swirl of coconut milk as a garnish.
2 tablespoons virgin coconut oil or extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 2½-inch piece ginger, peeled, finely grated
1 tablespoon medium curry powder (such as S&B)
¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
¾ cup red lentils
1 14.5-ounce can crushed tomatoes
½ cup finely chopped cilantro, plus leaves with tender stems for serving
Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper
1 13.5-ounce can unsweetened coconut milk, shaken well
Lime wedges (for serving)
- Heat oil in a medium saucepan over medium. Cook onion, stirring often, until softened and golden brown, 8–10 minutes.
- Add garlic, ginger, curry powder, and red pepper flakes and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add lentils and cook, stirring, 1 minute.
- Add tomatoes, ½ cup cilantro, a generous pinch of salt, and 2½ cups water; season with pepper. Set aside ¼ cup coconut milk for serving and add remaining coconut milk to saucepan.
- Bring mixture to a boil; reduce heat and simmer gently, stirring occasionally, until lentils are soft but not mushy, 20–25 minutes. Season soup with more salt and pepper if needed.
- To serve, divide soup among bowls. Drizzle with reserved coconut milk and top with more cilantro. Serve with lime wedges.
Do Ahead: Soup (without toppings) can be made 3 days ahead. Let cool; cover and chill.
Recipe by Yotam Ottolenghi, found in bon appétit magazine