I grew up eating a lot of lentil soup. So much, in fact, I'm surprised this is my first foray into the homemade stuff. So when I saw a lonely bag of lentils at Cronig's today I thought, "How hard can it be?" This Curried Coconut version has an Indian flair (Maybe because I'm reading Shantaram?). Cardamom, cumin, and coconut give it a kick without being over-the-top. Just enough to make it interesting without banging out over the head with curry. This is not canned lentil soup.
If you've never bought cardamom pods, I am offering a money-back guarantee. Just the smell makes me happy, and those little pods really make a difference in the flavor. Cardamom are the green pods below. You can use them whole but the outer green shell stays hard and woody. I pop them open and use the little black seeds inside. So. Good.
This could be lunch or, with a hunk of crusty bread, dinner on a chilly June night. Bonus: you can freeze this in bulk containers and have lentil soup whenever you want!
1 red onion, diced
5 cloves garlic
3 large carrots, diced
Seeds from 4 cardamom pods
1/2 teaspoon coriander seeds
1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon cayenne
1 pound brown lentils
1/4 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
1 teaspoon salt
1. In a large soup pot, saute the onion and carrot until they begin to soften - about 3 minutes.
2. Add the coriander, cumin, cayenne, bay leaf, and garlic. Saute for just a minute, being careful not to let the garlic burn.
3. Rinse the lentils in a colander and add them to the pot.
4. Add enough water so that the lentils are covered by about 2 inches. Season with salt.
5. Cover the pot and simmer until the lentils are cooked through and soft, about 40 minutes.
6. Using an immersion or stand-up blender (carefully and in very small batches!), blend the soup to thicken. It should be fairly smooth but you want to keep some texture of the lentils and veggies.