Any day -- especially a gray, wintry day -- is a good day to make soup in my book. Tell me that it's National Homemade Soup Day, and I'm all over it.
It's not just the eating of it that's comforting, it's in the making, too. There's the first couple minutes of the butter melting, then the onions softening, then the warm aroma of the spices joining the party, the satisfying pleasure of stirring, the familiar awe when something creamy deliciousness evolves from nearly nothing. Every sense is touched. The process itself is soothing.
I don't have much experience cooking with lentils. Only once or twice have I made soup with the brown lentils I found at the supermarket. And it was met with a murky, sidelong glance from Mr. Rosemary. About the same reaction I got from split pea soup.
So it was a bold move I made when I picked up a bag of red lentils at Trader Joe's on one of my semi-annual trips to the "city." Maybe it was the color he didn't like, I thought to myself.
Still, that pretty bag of coral colored beans sat in the pantry for several months. I hid them behind a bag of rice so they wouldn't chastise me any more. Then one day I relented.
I was naive enough to believe that the red lentils would remain a pretty color when they cooked. But they weren't brown nor green, so I was still on safe ground. I also -- although I didn't write it in the recipe below -- added about a cup of cubed sausage, knowing full well my life partner does not deem beans a fair substitute for meat.
The curry added just a nice dash of sweet spiciness to the soup and the coconut milk, as you'd expect, the right amount of creaminess.
Mr. Rosemary had seconds.
Red Lentil - Coconut Milk Soup
Adapted from Good Food Matters
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
1/4 cup diced onion
2 carrots, about 1/2 cup, diced
2 stalks celery, about 1/2 cup, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 tablespoons curry powder
1 cup red lentils
3 cups chicken broth
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 14-ounce can whole coconut milk
In a large pot, over medium heat, add the butter and olive oil. Stir in onions, carrots, celery and garlic and cook for about 3 minutes. Add the curry powder and cook for about 1 minute. Add the lentils and 3 cups of chicken broth and simmer for about 15 minutes. Add the red pepper flakes and the coconut milk. Cover and simmer about 10 minutes and serve.