A whirlwind visit to Hong Kong and the rush of the holidays had me yearning for the comforts of food. It had to be soup: simple, hot, fragrant, bone-building, spicy and creamy… a cup that restoreth the culinary soul.
For a while I ate turkey stock boiled with thin slices of carrots and laced with a frozen mashed-potato turkey pot pie; a very easy and tasty turkey soup. After a diet of noodles and rice, it was just plain comforting to enjoy sturdy, reliable, Maine-style food.
After the fifth meal of this repast, there was a bit of grumbling at the dinner table about the lack of variation in the menu. Perhaps another recipe might be in order?
The inspiration for this preparation came from the December 2017 Bon Appetit magazine in a piece written by Yotam Ottolenghi, an Israeli- British chef and food writer. It’s a recipe that can be prepared in less than an hour, and with the exception of fresh cilantro, most ingredients are stored in the pantry.
This is a recipe where paying attention to details makes a difference. Stirring the curry powder, garlic, ginger and pepper flakes into the oil, and cooking until fragrant, is the soul of this soup. The lentils add a hearty dimension to the tomatoes, and the coconut sweetens the heat.
Yotam suggests pouring off some of the coconut milk, drizzling it over the top of the soup before serving. Save a few leaves of cilantro to finish it off. These extra touches add a nice, quick burst of flavor.
For those that enjoy soup for the New Year, this preparation would be a winner. A large batch in jars will keep for several days in the refrigerator. For a really special Maine-style supper, serve Curried Tomato & Lentil Soup with a hot popover.
CURRIED TOMATO & LENTIL SOUP
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- ½ cup onion finely chopped
- 2 garlic cloves finely chopped
- 2 tablespoons finely grated fresh ginger about a 2 inch piece
- 1 tablespoon curry powder to taste
- ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes to taste
- ¾ cup red lentils
- 2 cups tomato sauce or tomato puree
- 2 cups water
- ½ cup finely chopped fresh cilantro save some leaves to garnish the top of the soup
- 1 13.5 ounce can coconut milk *
- sea salt and fresh pepper to taste
- Lime wedges for serving
- Heat the oil in a heavy soup pot over medium heat. Add the chopped onion, cook and stir until golden, about 5 – 10 minutes.
- Peel and finely grate the ginger.
- Add the chopped garlic, grated ginger, curry powder and red pepper flakes. Stir and cook until fragrant, about 2 minutes.
- Add the lentils, stirring to coat well. Add the tomato sauce, water, chopped fresh cilantro and a generous pinch of salt.
- Shake the can of coconut milk. Pour off about ¼ cup for serving the soup and add the rest to the soup pot.
- Bring the mixture to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer gently until the lentils are soft, but not mushy, about 25 minutes. Season with sea salt, fresh pepper, and more curry and red pepper flakes if needed.
- To serve, ladle the soup into bowls. Drizzle with coconut milk and top with cilantro leaves. Serve with a lime wedge.
Nutritional bonus: 67% RDA fiber, 50% RDA folate , 44% RDA iron