Well okay, damn it. I’ve done all the foot dragging and fussing and “I will not go gently” that I can do, and it is still apparent that summer (such as it was, and I’m tempted to put the word in air quotes) is nonetheless over and fall is here. School has started, a crackling fire in the fireplace is now welcome on chilly evenings, and slippers are no longer optional.
So it is time to concede graciously, be a good sport, and welcome the change of seasons as though it were just exactly what I’ve been longing for all along.
There are a lot of pleasures that come with fall. Watching the cat stretch out like a parenthesis in front of the aforementioned fire, turn his tummy to the heat, and make that soft “mrrph” sound of contentment that is half purr and half exhale. Reuniting with favorite sweaters. Flame-bright trees appearing out of the fog as I run. Snuggling under a blanket on the couch. And hearty soups.
It’s time again, to start making big batches of hot, thick, savory soups. This Coconut Red Lentil Soup is one I went mad for last spring, and I’m happy to renew the acquaintance. Aside from being delicious, it also gives me a reason to go to the wonderful Indian grocery store near my house, to scoop yellow split peas out of the giant open bin, replenish my supply of saffron, and then poke around the packed aisles full of mysteries and wonders.
This soup is as hearty and satisfying as any lentil soup, but the flavors are bright and clean rather than earthy– the spices subtle, but just complex enough to be intriguing. It keeps well in the refrigerator for several days and if anything, gets better as the flavors meld. It is excellent served over brown rice, farro, or other cooked grain, but I like it best on its own.
If I can’t hang on to summer any longer, at least I can console myself with soup.
Coconut Red Lentil Soup
(slightly adapted from 101 Cookbooks)
- 1 cup yellow split peas
- 1 cup red lentils
- 8 cups water
- 1 medium carrot, cut into 1/2-inch dice
- 2 tablespoons fresh peeled and minced ginger
- 2 tablespoons curry powder
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 4 green onions, thinly sliced
- 1/3 cup raisins
- 1/4 cup tomato paste
- 1 pinch of saffron threads (optional, but recommended)
- 1 13.5-ounce can coconut milk
- 3 teaspoons salt
Rinse peas and lentils well, place in a 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.
Meanwhile, in a small dry skillet over low heat, toast the curry powder until it is fragrant. Set aside. Place the butter in a pan over medium heat, add the green onions, the remaining ginger, and raisins. Sauté for two minutes stirring constantly, then add the tomato paste and saffron, and cook for another minute or two more.
Add the toasted curry powder to the tomato paste mixture, mix well, then add this to the simmering soup along with the coconut milk and salt. Simmer, uncovered, for 20 minutes or until desired consistency. Adjust salt to taste.