Sunday, May 22, 2016

Even More Soup!

Hi All,

I know it's been over a year since my last post, and anyone who reads my blog (all 10 of you) has probaby given up on me, but I'm still here and still cooking.

This post is not about a recent meal, but about one from a month or so ago.  I used to make this amazing red lentil soup with garam malasa from a recipe I got from Epicurious. I made it a lot, every couple of months probably.

The soup is really good made according to the recipe. The wonderful mixture of spices make it a very flavorful soup.  I've made it many times in the past exactly according to the recipe, though sometimes adding chicken or chopped up veggies like peas, celery, or summer squash to the soup to make it a bit heartier.

I haven't made this soup in several years, and when I went to make it a couple of months ago, I was surprised that it didn't turn out like I'd remembered. It was much soupier than I remembered--more brothy, not as thick. Also the flavors were a bit flat.  I'm not sure why.  So I doctored it up a bit by adding some more spices, a little maple syrup (it needed some sweeteness to balance out the spices), and a can of coconut cream (like coconut milk but thicker--I got mine from Trader Joe's).  The result was so good!  It was even better than I remember the original being.

I think next time I might add one or two additional carrots, grated, to the soup. This would add some sweetness, and I could leave out the maple syrup.  This soup is delicious just plain, but it would also be very good with some chopped-up, leftover veggies and/or chicken thrown in.

Here's my version:

Red Lentil Soup with Garam Masala and Coconut Cream
Adapted from Epicurious


2 ½ cups dried red lentils (about 1 pound), picked over and rinsed
2 medium onions, chopped fine
1 medium carrot, diced
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 ½ teaspoons salt or to taste
2 teaspoons chili powder
1 ½ teaspoons ground coriander
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
¾ teaspoon ground cumin
¾ teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon cayenne
¼ teaspoon ground cardamom
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon mild Madras curry (I used Williams Sonoma's coarse Madras curry)
6 cups water
1 Tablespoon Better than Bouillon Vegetable Base dissolved in 2 cups hot water (or 2 cups vegetable broth)
1 can (13 oz.) coconut cream or coconut milk (if using coconut milk, reduce water by 1 cup)
1 - 2 Tablespoons honey or maple syrup


In a bowl soak lentils in water to cover by 2 inches for 1 hour and then drain well.

In a 4-quart heavy saucepan cook onion and carrot in oil over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until onion is golden and carrots have softened. Stir in salt and spices and cook over moderately low heat, stirring occasionally, 5 minutes. Stir in lentils, water, and broth and simmer until lentils fall apart, about 20 minutes. (Old lentils may take longer to cook.) Let soup cool slightly.

Transfer soup to a blender in batches and purée ½ to ¾ of the soup then add back to pan (or use an immersion blender). Pureeing thickens the soup, but you still want some of the texture of the lentils. In pan heat soup over moderate heat, stirring, until hot. Add coconut cream and stir until well combined--do not let the soup boil. Add honey or maple syrup to taste. Adjust salt & seasonings if necessary. Best the next day.

Some notes:

  • You definitely want to use red lentils. These are quite different tasting than regular brown or green lentils. Red lentils are much more common than they used to be, so you should be able to find them in your regular grocery store. If not, try a Whole Foods, Trader Joe's, or a natural foods store.
  • I usually use yellow onions, but white are also fine.
  • The recipe doesn't specify the type of chili powder, so I used what I had, which was Spice Islands Chili Powder. I've used Gebhardt's in the past.
  • I love Better than Bouillon! I usually have the chicken base on hand, but since I was going to be sharing this will my friend who is a vegetarian, I made it with the vegetable base instead. BtB vegetable base is so much better than regular vegetable broth! If you don't have vegetable broth or BtB, you can use chicken broth instead. I would not recommend beef broth as it is too strongly-flavored.

I hope you enjoyed this post. Next time we'll continue the curry theme with Sweet and Spicy Curried Nuts!

P.S. I'm sorry there are no pictures, though this isn't the most picturesque soup being a sort of orangey-brown color, but it is delicious!